Interviewing your pediatrician! Choosing the right pediatrician should be a thought out decision, and not just who is close to me and on my insurance? Here are my questions to ask when interviewing your pediatrician.
Aside from finding out who is on your insurance, you do need to know some pertinent information. First, narrow a few things down prior to scheduling an interview with your potential pediatrician.
Here are my preliminary questions for your pediatrician:
- Are they accepting new patients? Sometimes there is a waiting list.
- Make sure the doctor you are interested in is licensed to practice at the hospital you will be delivering at. In case your doctor is part of a medical group, this needs to be very clear that your particular doctor is licensed at your hospital. If you want Dr. Smith as your baby’s pediatrician, but Dr. Jones who is also part of the practice is actually the one with the license for your hospital, Dr. Jones will be showing up after delivery and any future emergencies and not Dr. Smith.
- If you are a working mom, office hours are important. Do they have walk-in (no appointment necessary) set aside times in the mornings? If so, is it for the whole work week or just on certain days? There is a huge amount of comfort knowing that if your baby is sick you can take them in first thing in the morning without making an appointment.
- Do they have weekend hours?
- Do they have a 24/7 help line?
Once you get these preliminary questions answered to your liking, set up an interview. Next, you want to visit their facility and do the interview in person with the pediatrician. I would schedule this interview no later than 3 weeks before delivery, preferably the earlier the better (you never know what could happen)!
When you arrive for your interview start checking out the facility. Do they have separate sick and wellness rooms? This is a very important feature, especially when you have a newborn. Do they have tons of people waiting to be seen, and are they still there waiting after your interview is over? (This is not a good sign). Are there toys available for children while they wait?
Questions to ask when interviewing your pediatrician:
1. If it is a group practice ask if they remain your child’s doctor for all visits?
I wish I had asked this question with my daughter’s first pediatrician. The doctor I picked was part of a family practice. My daughter initially was seen by the doctor I choose, but then I noticed after a couple of months, the other doctor started to see my daughter for her wellness check-ups and sick visits. When I was making her appointment, I would specifically say which doctor I wanted to schedule her visit with. However, that didn’t seem to matter. Apparently, the way they scheduled visits was just whoever was available that day would see your child. Which really bothered me. My daughter hadn’t seen the doctor I had chosen for her, for nearly 8 months. A lot of changes happen in 8 months when you’re a baby. They also tried to convince me this was for my benefit and this made the office more efficient.
2. Ask your doctor about where they stand on any important issue you have. Such as vaccinations, co-sleeping, bottle feeding, etc. Are their views in sync with yours?
3. Be sure to ask how they handle emergencies. If they have a 24/7 call line; how responsive is it, who is fielding your questions and who gets back to you? Having the comfort of knowing how the helpline works in advance, will help eliminate any unnecessary stress.
Billing: If you have insurance, you should not be charged for wellness visits.
a. You want to ask how they process their bills with your insurance.
b. Do they charge for phone calls with nurses and your doctor, if so how much is the fee?
c. Do they charge for canceled appointments?
d. Do they charge for sick visits, lab tests, and immunizations, if so what is the fee?
e. What form of payments do they take?
f. Do they collect co-pays at the time of your visit or send you a bill?
I was surprised to find out that I was getting billed by the minute and by each person seeing my daughter at each sick visit. Meaning I was charged for the nurse assistant that escorted us to our room and took my daughter’s vitals, and made notes in my daughter’s file. Yes, that brief 5 minutes was a charge! Then I had to wait another 10-sometimes 20 minutes for the LPN, or doctor whoever was available to see us, which of course, I was billed for that time as well.
Aside from long wait times, not having control of which doctor my daughter was seeing, and the way this practice did their billing was the final straw for my daughter’s first pediatrician. My daughter’s new pediatrician is very prompt, responsive, and as far as billing, they are very straightforward. Now when she is sick, I just pay a co-pay at the time of the visit. Before, I would pay a co-pay and then get an additional bill in the mail of what was not covered by insurance. It was very confusing, expensive, and I felt outrageous. I am so much happier and more confident of the care my daughter is receiving with my new pediatrician.
I hope you found this list of questions for interviewing your pediatrician helpful. Would you like a printable checklist of these questions? Become a subscriber, and get access to the checklist I have prepared in my FREE mom resource library!