Choosing the right doctor can be a life-or-death decision. Patients who aren’t happy tend to “doctor-hop” – and doctor-hoppers tend to have more health problems than those who stick with one physician for a longer period of time. So what’s the best way to find a doctor you’ll like from day one? 

  • First: Don’t let one or two negative reviews be a deal breaker. Online reviews tend to be biased toward the negative because patients are more likely to vent online than they are to praise good service. Michael Fertik, who founded the website Reputation.com, says a reviewer could have been upset by something that has nothing to do with the doctor’s ability to treat and diagnose illness. In fact, a lot of doctors get marked down for things like waiting times. And yes, promptness is important, but if the doctor spends extra time with patients who need more attention, or sometimes gets behind because of medical emergencies, the bad review could be hiding a gem of a doctor. 

  • Another tip when you’re looking for a new doctor: Look at their professional credentials. Because a doctor who is board certified in their field tends to provide better care than those who aren’t. That’s according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.  

  • Finally, expand your search beyond sites that also review restaurants and plumbers, like Yelp. Because websites like Health Grades and RateMDs.com include evaluations on things like which doctors are recommended by their peers and how well they relate to patients, along with other qualifications, like education, training and hospital affiliation.