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12 questions to ask when doctor shopping

Ask about the waiting time for scheduled appointments when choosing a new doctor.

Searching for a primary care physician can feel like buying a car or going on a job interview. Once you narrow a list to a few doctors, you want to talk to each of them before making a final decision. Without a plan of attack, so to speak, you won’t get the best information to make that choice. Here are a few questions to ask when shopping for your next doctor:

Office atmosphere

Ask the front desk employees questions about the office’s routine. You might also want to ask some of the patients in the waiting room!

1. Are phones quickly answered?

2. How far in advance do you need to schedule an appointment?

3. Does the doctor keep you waiting for very long after you arrive for an appointment?

4. Does the doctor accept same-day appointments?

5. How long is a typical visit?


Electronic health records are used by a growing number of physicians. Should you be changing doctors, or plan to in the future, online records can make the process quicker, and simpler.

6. Does your doctor use email to communicate?

7. Does your doctor keep notes, charts and test results online, making it easier to share with specialists you might need?


Beyond the policies, try to have a conversation with your doctor about his or her philosophy. Most patients choose a doctor based on personality. When it comes to your health care, find out how your potential doctor will work with you.

8. Is the doctor engaged in a lot of small talk or does he or she get straight to the point?

9. Are your questions fully answered?

10. Are communications clear?

11. Are follow-up appointments specified before you leave the office?

12. Does the doctor listen closely enough to fully understand your questions and concerns?

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