Choosing the Best Doctors for Your Diabetes Management

Patient Expert
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When you have diabetes, you need to find doctors in several different specialties. You will likely see a primary care physician (PCP) or an endocrinologist more often than others, so selecting these doctors is especially important. But you also need to carefully pick a dietitian, an ophthalmologist, a podiatrist, a dentist, and a dermatologist — unless you can rely on your PCP or endocrinologist for those services.


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Integrity

Integrity is hard to judge, but not impossible. You may be able to find out if your state’s medical board has disciplined the doctor, or if a malpractice judgment was served. Some states, including New York and California, provide records of doctors subjected to disciplinary or other legal actions. A Google search may also help, or you can try the search tool from the Federation of State Medical Boards.


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Empathy

How you feel about your doctor is definitely important. To be successful with diabetes, you need to have a doctor you trust. As a 2012 study demonstrated: When our doctors have more empathy with us, we do better than when our doctors have low empathy scores.


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Health insurance

Depending on the type of health insurance you have — an indemnity or a managed care plan (HMO, PPO, or POS) — your choice of doctors will vary. Especially if you are in an HMO, your choices will be limited. But any managed care plan can provide you with a list of options in each specialty. Indemnity plans reimburse your medical expenses regardless of who provides the service.


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Location

If at all possible, the office of your primary care physician should be relatively nearby. But don’t set narrow limits. When I fired a doctor who didn’t listen to me, the office of the one I chose was an hour from my home — and this doctor was the one who helped me more than any other. I know people who have travelled about 3,000 miles each way to see a top specialist.


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Other considerations

If you are lucky enough to have a wide choice of doctors who meet these primary considerations, check more factors: Do they have office hours that are convenient for you? Do your friends and neighbors rate them highly? Do they have a long waiting list for appointments? Do they provide an emergency after-hours contact?


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Use the "Ben Franklin sales close"

Your final decision needs to weigh these factors. Carefully limit the factors that you consider to be a deal breaker. The Ben Franklin sales close involves compiling a balance sheet of all the pros on one side of a single page, and all the cons on the other. When you do this for each doctor you are considering, picking the right one should become easier.