How do you find a good health professional? It’s a question I’ve been asked quite a bit in the last week so thought I would put some pen to paper, or rather, type away on this. Firstly lets look at the question?
It’s a fair question especially these days with the wave of health and fitness up and downs and breakthroughs in the last 10 years. It’s certainly been a busy and exciting space to be in but with everything from Google Dr to wearables to a huge number of courses graduating health professionals in everything from personal trainer to medication administration to hypnotist it can a confusing place! Really though what most people are wanting to know when they ask this question is can they fix my problem? After all, especially in our busy life, that is really what you are after with any service – a solution and fix to the problem you are seeing someone for.
Outside of word of mouth from people you know and trust (which still remains the best way of selecting a health professional), how do you find a good one? Well it’s not really made much easier for you with the regulations around advertising and marketing with health care professionals. Health professionals registered with AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority) are not allowed to publicly advertise testimonials, ratings or other forms of advertisement to display how “good” they are at treating conditions. It is enforced so there is unbiased selection of health professionals. Compare that to finding a great place for breakfast and checking reviews online or Instagram, etc This does make it a bit more difficult, so people have to research a little deeper.
Something that does help is to know a bit about the types of Health professionals out there. This helps to identify if you are looking in the right direction. For example if you are after a prescription for a cold, a General Practitioner is probably a good place to start. Similarly if you have some pains or aches in the body, allied health professionals such as Physiotherapists are ideal for this area. For something such as problems with fatigue and bloating after certain foods, Dieticians / Nutritionists would be ideal. Many people start with their General Practitioner which is a good place to start but this can at times delay recovery. Many do not know they could go direct to other health professionals rather than being referred and extending the cycle towards treatment.
With this little bit of research i.e. checking what you want treated is ideal for certain health professionals the next best thing you can do is to look at those health professionals and what they are interested in. This is easily done online and it is usually a good start to select someone who is interested in what your condition is. For example myself it’s treating low back pain, because I have an interest in this area I would say I can treat this condition much better than say someone who has wrist problems – an area I’m more likely to refer on. This information is usually found easily on the web in the practitioner’s bio.
Following this it is certainly good to know, will the person listen to you i.e. how much time do you have with them? With a variety of health professionals having different consult times anywhere from as little as 5 minutes through to an hour, it’s worth checking how long your consultation with them will be to feel comfortable you will have enough time to get adequate treatment.
Lastly, I tell a lot of people about the “3 session rule”. That is if you are not seeing positive improvements (that is improvements as not all things can be fixed in 3 sessions but after 3 sessions you should certainly be having solid benefits) then will they find someone who can help? I usually discuss this with patients I’m unsure on how they will progress with treatment, saying that if we haven’t had some positive signs after 3 sessions I’ll refer them to someone who might be more specialised for their condition. Don’t be afraid to ask when you do see a health professional “if I’m not getting better after a few sessions what would you recommend?”.
Above all else though, my experience has taught me that the way to select a good health professional is no different to other service businesses. Ultimately do you gel well with the person and are you made to feel confident that your problem will be solved. If these are ticks you are usually on a winner.
Have a healthy and productive day,
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