A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting down with the world re-known, Los Angeles based ENT (ears, nose, and throat) specialist, Dr. Farhad Sigari.
I initially travelled up to LA to chat with Dr. Sigari about a cutting edge procedure he not only performs very regularly, but also teaches to other doctors as well. This minimally invasive treatment is known as balloon sinus dilation.
People suffering from “chronic or recurrent sinusitis,” elect to have this outpatient procedure done and the results can literally change lives.
So I had planned to give you the lowdown on all the cool sinus dilation details throughout this post. But my meeting with Dr. Sigari turned out to be such a superb learning experience, I decided to first utilize it as an example of what one should look for in a doctor. You’ll just have to make sure you catch my next post! 😉 And I’m telling you, this procedure is really fascinating stuff, so you won’t want to miss out.
Now, whether you’re needing balloon sinus dilation or a completely different procedure that has nothing to do with your sinuses, care from a top-notch doctor is your right. Every. single. person. deserves an excellent physician.
Ok, ok, ok. I’m sure you’re thinking the above sentence is a rather obvious statement, right? However, it’s not uncommon for people to simply settle with the first doctor they visit.
I will be the first one to tell you, not all doctors are created equal.
Like at all.
I came to this ugly realization rather recently. In the fall of 2015, I wanted to track down a doctor who could help me with a number of symptoms that were affecting me big time.
At first, the extent of my “research” to find a doctor consisted of looking at the list of physicians covered under my insurance, then pretty much choosing at random.
Needless to say, the “Close My Eyes and Point to a Name” method ended up backfiring.
Doctor after doctor ran the basic tests on me, but the results always came back normal.
Since those general tests claimed I had horse-like health, every doctor insisted I was fine. End of story.
Apparently, all my carrying on about my hair falling out in clumps, the debilitating fatigue that wouldn’t go away, and the handful of other pretty poopy symptoms must’ve been something I cooked up.
Why did I bring that up? Believe you me, after spending well over a year dealing with mediocre medical professionals, one ends up developing a whole new appreciation for game-changers like Dr. Sigari.
And after my visit with Dr. Sigari, I wanted to share some tips to help your search end in success.
Outstanding doctors do exist, we just need to know what to look for!
Below you’ll find 7 things you can do when choosing the right doctor for your procedure.
1. Check Your Insurance
I know, I can hear your disappointed grumbles from here. “Katie, you mean to tell me your big list opener is this no-brainer tip? Gaaah.”
Seriously, I promise this tip gets better.
First up? The obvious part. Say you already have a physician in mind, confirm they accept your health insurance. Second, get in touch with your insurance so they can provide you with the appropriate next steps.
These days it’s pretty common practice for insurance companies to require a prior authorization for many surgical procedures.
Meaning, your health insurance wants to make sure you actually need the procedure, and that you’re not having something like a colonoscopy done for poops and giggles.
So what if your insurance denies your prior authorization?
There’s no rule stating you must admit defeat!
No way, José! Dr. Sigari informed me you can appeal that sucker. As a matter of fact there are quite a few resources available to help you out too.
The Alliance of Claims Assistance Professionals (ACAP) is an online directory of, yep, you guessed it, claims assistance professionals. Claims assistance professionals are experts in handling patients health insurance issues.
2. Contact Your Primary Doctor
If you’re starting from square one, reach out to your GP and hit them up for recommendations.
The health site, Very Well points out you should ask why they’re suggesting those particular doctors. “If the answer is ‘he accepts your insurance,’ keep looking, but if the answer is ‘when my husband needed a surgeon, this is who we chose,’ you have a high quality referral.”
3. Chat It Up with Family and Friends
Alrighty, your primary doc gave you one or two names, but it’s not out of the question to round up a couple more to choose from. Call your loved ones and see if they know of a gush-worthy doctor.
Maybe they haven’t gone through the procedure themselves, but you never know, one of their friends might have.
4. Get the Scoop On the Doctors
When choosing the right doctor for your procedure, it’s not a bad idea to take a peek at their past. Ideally, you should be able to just hop online and visit the doctor’s website.
Dr. Sigari’s bio includes excellent examples of what a patient would look for in an awesome doctor. By clicking here, you’ll notice:
- where Dr. Sigari received his education
- his areas of specialty
- Dr. Sigari is “board-certified in Otolaryngology by the American Board of Otolaryngology”
- his award-winning research and expertise have been featured in numerous regional as well as national publications
- Dr. Sigari’s extraordinary work has received national recognition time and time again; most recently as a Super Doctor (an honor where around “5% of the physicians within the respective state or region” are selected)
Also, nurse practitioner, Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FNP-C, recommends you find out if the doctor is licensed to practice in whichever state your procedure is performed in. To verify a doctor’s license, click here.
While you’re at it, you might as well make sure they’re board-certified too! The American Board of Medical Specialties explains, “Board Certification is a voluntary process that goes above and beyond licensing requirements – it’s a commitment to continually expand knowledge in a medical specialty.” All you do is head over to Certification Matters, type in the doctor’s information, and bim bam boom, mission accomplished.
These days, the public has access to a ton of resources allowing us to get the full dish on physicians, from special achievements to any malpractice suits or disciplinary actions.
Find out everything you want to know about a doctor with this well-rounded list of resources from Consumer Reports (Psst…the list is towards the bottom of the page so be prepared to scroll for a sec!).
5. Read Patient Reviews
Who cares that you used Yelp to find a reputable bug guy, feedback from former/current patients can be extremely beneficial when checking out a doctor. Especially, if you read a number of their reviews.
Keep in mind, reading one or two “not so hot” reviews is no biggie (there always seems to be that one unappeasable person), but when you continue to notice similarities between the reviewers complaints, it stands to reason, you might be in for the same negative experience. The same rule applies for favorable comments!
Another site to try is Angie’s List. I haven’t used it as of yet, but I’ve only heard good things. I can’t seem to remember that they’re free now!
6. Schedule Your Consultation
Once you’ve narrowed your list down to a couple choices, set those wheels in motion my friend, and schedule your first consultation.
Before your appointment spend a little time thinking about the questions you’d like to ask. Don’t forget to write those humdingers down.
Here are a few questions to get your ideas a-flowin’:
- How long does the procedure take?
- What happens during the procedure?
- How much pain will I be in afterwards?
- How long is the recovery period?
- How far out are you booked?
Of course, having your questions addressed is crucial, however, picking the doctor’s brain is only part of a consultation. You’re also taking mental notes on things such as the doctor’s bedside manner, friendliness of the staff, atmosphere, etc.
For me, the way a doctor treats their patients is super important which, in my opinion, is what sets Dr. Sigari apart from the rest, and what originally motivated me to write this post.
Don’t get me wrong, I realize a doctor’s medical abilities are equally as important. With that being said, given the choice between two insanely talented physicians where one shows kindness and compassion, while the other shows nothing but a scowl, you bet your purdy lil face, I’ll be booking an appointment with the skilled and empathic doctor.
From the moment I walked into Dr. Sigari’s office, I made it a point to look at my experience from a patient’s perspective. Right away, I picked up on details that would leave a positive lasting impression on anyone.
Take the welcoming, clutter-free waiting area, for instance. If their office environment is neat and organized, it leads me to believe, the doctor is as well.
And Dr. Sigari’s very personable office staff? One word. Awesome. They made me feel right at home and one can clearly see these people are on top of their game.
Maybe it’s just me, but with the amount of time patients spend working with the office team to set up appointments, go over insurance information, discuss billing, etc., dealing with friendly, respectful staff makes the process so much easier!
One of Dr. Sigari’s staff called me back after sitting in the waiting area for, at the most, 5 minutes. When a smidge under 20 minutes is the average time people are spending in a doctor’s waiting room, I’ll take 5 minutes any day of the week. Shortly thereafter, my meeting with the doctor was well underway.
During that time, he shared exactly how the aforementioned, balloon sinus dilation, worked and explained it in a way that all of us ordinary folk could easily understand.
He has the ability to put the patient at ease by talking to them as though he’s talking to a friend. Dr. Sigari’s unintimidating approach allowed me to feel like I could ask all the questions I wanted (even the dumb ones!?), and express my thoughts without the fear of being judged or belittled.
Our appointment seemed to zip by. It wasn’t until I glanced at the time while walking to my car that I realized Dr. Sigari had spent over an hour discussing his process and answering any questions I had. At no point did he ever appear to be rushed or on auto-pilot.
I left the office with a clear understanding of how the sinus dilation alleviates the patient’s issues, as well as what one should expect before, during, and after the procedure.
On top of all that, I found out Dr. Sigari is a really cool dude.
7. Consider a Consultation with a Second Doctor
It’s not unusual to get another physician’s thoughts before making a final decision. In fact, most doctors expect for people to seek a second opinion.
Orange County plastic surgeon, Thomas T. Nguyen, MD, believes finding the right doctor is a big decision because, well, you’re talking about your health!
Plus, you are “entering into a long-term relationship with your surgeon and their office…therefore, you need to make sure you have all the information you need to choose the [doctor] that best suits you.”
Obviously, you don’t have to meet with a second doctor, but why not? The worst worst case scenario I can think of (which is far from bad) is that doctor #2 is “meh” and he/she makes you appreciate doctor #1 just that much more! Best case scenario? You couldn’t fathom a better doctor than doctor #1…until, that is, your appointment with doctor #2!
The other best case scenario? Doctor #2 is just as brilliant as doctor #1! Regardless of who you end up choosing in this outcome, you know you’re in good hands.
Once you decide on your doctor, all that’s left to do is book your procedure! Let’s get that puppy on the calendar so you can start feeling better as soon as possible. 😉
To wrap things up, I sincerely hope you never have a use for this post. But if you do ever need to find a doctor for a procedure, let these tips help you during your search, and end up with the right doctor for your needs.
Do any of you guys have a tip for someone trying to find the right doctor? We’d love to hear from you! Just write a comment below.
Oh, and don’t forget to join me for my next post when I give you the skinny on balloon sinus dilation! Trust me, it is pretty amazing. Feel free to sign up today for Hungry Beastling updates and never miss another post! And guess what? It’s FREE!
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