Shopping for a doc?

What to look for in a health care provider

The relationship you have with your doctor is an important one. However, finding the right health care provider can seem less obvious. Dr. Colby Evans of Evans Dermatology Partners in Austin, Texas offers these tips:

Step 1: Find a qualified health care provider.
Whether you are searching for a dermatologist or a rheumatologist, finding a board-certified health care provider is important. Board-certified doctors have completed training and exams demonstrating their knowledge to practice in their specialty. Check the American Board of Dermatology for a board-certified dermatologist and search the American College of Rheumatologists for its members.

Step 2: Check for experience treating psoriasis.
Once you've found a qualified doctor, look for a health care provider who can meet your particular needs. Dermatology has become a diverse field, with some focusing on cosmetic procedures or surgery. Evans recommends checking the doctors' websites and calling the office to learn about the treatments they use for psoriasis. "If their website is covered in Botox or laser beauty treatments, they may be less focused on (psoriasis)," Evans said. However, if an office has phototherapy or excimer laser, or if they routinely prescribe biologics, that's a good sign they have experience treating psoriatic diseases.

Step 3: Have a meet-and-screen.
Now that you've narrowed the pool to doctors who look good on paper, schedule an appointment to get to know him or her. Find a different health care provider if the first meeting doesn't go as well as you would like. Even the very best doctor isn't right for every patient, Evans said.

Step 4: Make sure all your docs are on the same page.
Many people with psoriatic diseases are at risk for other diseases like diabetes, Crohn's disease, cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis. If you are working with several health care providers, make sure they all are on the same page. Doctors can request records from one another, but privacy laws and technology can get in the way. Evans recommends keeping your own records. Get copies of blood work, X-rays and lab results, take notes on any treatments you are using, and be sure to inform each of your health care providers if you have a biopsy. Evans also suggests keeping that information in a notebook or a phone to bring to every appointment.

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