This technique is most effective when you ask the opinion of someone who works in the medical area. A medical professional who knows your potential physician or, better yet, who knows many physicians in the same specialty often has inside information not available to the public. Even if you don't know anyone, you can sometimes call the hospital unit where you or your child will receive care (e.g., labor and delivery unit, nursery, etc.) and ask someone there to recommend a doctor. It may take more than one call to find someone who will give you their opinion, but people who work in the labor and delivery unit are likely to know quite a lot about the doctors who practice there.
You can identify concern more easily than technical competence. It is something you learn by assessing your own feelings more than by asking questions.
Compassion and concern can be found in all types of physicians and is not limited to those in certain types of practice. This is one of the advantages of treatment in a large practice—you have a number of physicians from whom to choose. Don't be afraid to change physicians if you don't feel comfortable with your doctor. Having confidence in your doctor's competence and concern for you is an essential ingredient for a satisfying physician-patient relationship.
Many people do not use gender as a criterion for choosing a doctor; however, women constitute an increasing percentage of physicians entering practice. Numerous studies have shown that female and male physicians approach their patients differently. A study of university-based pediatricians showed that women spend more time and engage in more social interchange with their patients than do male physicians. In this study, parents (more mothers than fathers) were more satisfied with female than male physicians.
Your satisfaction with the health care services you receive is largely dependent on the physician(s) you choose. Both competence and compassion can be assessed. When possible, you should search carefully for both primary and specialty-care doctors. The best information remains insider recommendations. Unlike the stock market, insider recommendations are perfectly legal in health care and you should use them whenever possible.