Dear Lifehacker, I've heard many people extol the virtue of finding a good doctor that you can hopefully stick with for years. For a long time I moved suburbs while renting, often making use of different bulk billing clinics. Now that I've bought into an area, I'm hoping to find a GP I can see for many years to come, and am fortunate enough now that I don't mind paying.
Ideally I'd have a friend in the area to ask for recommendations, but unfortunately I don't. So what resources exist that could help? It's the sort of search that search engines don't do very well yet. How can I go about finding a good local doctor? Cheers, Michael
There are certainly resources that will help you find doctors within a given area: the Yellow Pages is an obvious place to start, and there are specific sites such as Docfinder. However, those sites won't necessarily answer basic questions, such as how easy is it to get an appointment or even what the parking is like near the surgery. And nothing other than actually visiting will help you determine if the doctor's personality and approach matches your needs. (And we realise that if you live in a rural area, your choices may be rather restricted in the first place.)
The Australian medical profession has fairly strict regulations about whether doctors should endorse actual products. This appears to have had something of a flow-on effect: while the regulations covering doctors advertising themselves don't ban ads outright, they do discourage advertising that "compromises the dignity or decorum of the profession". As such, it's pretty rare to see anything more than a Yellow Pages listing a lot of the time.
One potentially helpful option to explore is posting a question on Twitter, naming your area and asking for doctor recommendations. As ever, I'm sure Lifehacker readers may be able to offer up other resources and suggestions in the comments.
The process of finding a doctor can be challenging, but it could be more complicated. In the UK, for example, you need to specifically register with a doctor, which can make changing if you find you're not compatible . While we'd welcome a move to full electronic health records to simplify that process, if you don't find one doctor meets your needs, trying a new provider here is no more complicated than getting an appointment.