10 Tips for Choosing an Allergist 2022
If you are looking for a specialist to treat your allergies, the most important consideration is finding someone with whom you feel comfortable.
Start by asking friends and family members who they use or have used in the past. Healthcare professionals might also be able to provide some great referrals - especially if that person specializes in treating similar conditions as yours - so try contacting them too!
Take the time to research their credentials and experience on Healthgrades.com before narrowing down a list of doctors that you want to interview in person over the phone or during an appointment at their office.
Once you narrow it down be sure to ask the allergist about their experience working with other allergy patients like yourself, what qualifications and education they possess (especially when it comes to dealing specifically with food allergens), where they work from (i.e. at an office close enough for regular visits?), how many people on staff there are who can help treat different symptoms simultaneously; and finally what type of therapies will likely be best suited to your needs.
"Who do you think might be a good fit for me when it comes to a new allergist?"
It's important to ask yourself this when meeting with potential allergist candidates. If there are certain aspects of their professional background, philosophy or care approach that really grab your interest try specifically asking them about it during your appointment. This will give you some insight as to whether or not they are the right fit for you.
When evaluating a potential allergist for your child's food allergies be sure to get referrals from other professionals such as dietitians and pediatricians, who can really attest to that allergist's knowledge of and treatment approach towards allergies. If your family physician refers someone it is generally safe to assume he or she is well qualified for the job!
Before making an appointment with a new allergist, be sure to review their insurance policy and coverage - especially if you are discharging another healthcare provider due to expense or dissatisfaction. Be sure to understand what your current insurance policy covers before your visit to a new office, i.e., how much of the cost you will be responsible for and what treatments are covered, not all doctors’ offices have the same coverage under your insurance.
It's important that all patients make informed choices when choosing a specialist. Ask a lot of questions and if you are not satisfied with their answers don't be afraid to seek out a second opinion!
If you have a very complex condition, it might be difficult to find an allergy specialist who can treat your entire list of symptoms right away - that's ok! Start with one treatment and be sure to speak with your doctor about your overall management plan.
If you are dissatisfied with your current provider, it's ok to switch doctors! Your health is the most important consideration - not convenience or cost. Speaking with other patients who have also switched allergists can sometimes shed some light on what others have experienced when changing providers. Ultimately the choice is yours when it comes to what you feel will be best for your health.
The first step to finding a good allergist is to get referrals
Talk to your family and friends about their allergists. Ask if they feel comfortable with the treatment plan and if it was successful in helping them manage their symptoms.
Read Patient Reviews
Healthgrades.com (a free public website) lets patients rate and review their doctors, including allergists, so be sure to take this into consideration when researching someone you are considering as your specialist.
Consider the Allergist's Experience
Doctors who specialize in food allergies can be found at either an allergy or immunology clinic.
Immunologists are doctors who focus on the immune system and specialize in diseases that affect it. In some cases, they also deal with allergies. They do not usually have the same training as an allergist in regard to food allergies.
An allergist is a doctor who specializes in all aspects of allergy and asthma care, including food allergies. An allergist is best suited to evaluate your specific food allergies and develop a care plan containing the right combination of medication, diet modification, environmental control, and/or avoidance.
Ask your doctor questions. If you would like more information about any aspect of treatment or management, get your questions answered. Ask about their approach in managing your food allergy and whether or not they feel it is more important to avoid the food, pharmaceutical intervention, testing, etc. If your doctor does not answer these questions, ask them why! This can give you an idea of their confidence in treating your food allergies as well as insight into how well they communicate with patients on a regular basis.
If you have children, make sure the clinic also specializes in pediatric care.
Research the Allergist's Credentials
If you want to choose an allergist based on their board certification status it would be best to visit the Board of Allergy's web site to get the most up-to-date information.
Check if they are a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) as well as who their professional society memberships are with such as AAAAI. These organizations can tell you how active in the practice and in the allergy community an allergist is.
Inquire About Telehealth Capabilities
Some allergy and immunology clinics offer the ability to communicate with your doctor via tele-consults - either through email or over the phone. You can use this option if you are not near your allergist for any reason, such as holiday travel, inclement weather, or being out of town for work.
If your allergist offers such an option - it could save you time and money! You could ask questions from your computer or phone about how to manage your food allergies.
These consultations can also be used prior to your visit with that doctor in another state. Some clinics will charge you a small fee for this service while others offer it as part of the annual visit with no additional costs. So, if your travel plans will bring you close to your allergist - ask them about Virtual Care!
Evaluate Communication Style
You may prefer a doctor with whom you immediately bond. It is important to have an allergy specialist who has a warm personality but be careful when basing your decision on initially feeling comfortable, because as you get to know each other over time this may change.
Consider your preference for a male or female allergist It may be important for some patients to have an allergist of the same sex, especially those who prefer someone with whom they do not need to feel uncomfortable discussing personal issues. When choosing based on the gender you should also keep in mind that many doctors are now female and that many allergists are known for their patience and "bedside manner".
Which Hospitals Is the Allergist Associated With?
Allergies and asthma can be life-threatening. Therefore, you need to consider which hospital the allergist is affiliated with when it comes time for a bigger test or procedure.
Is the allergist affiliated with other doctors? If you have any major medical issues you may need to have doctors with whom you trust working together on your care.
How far is the allergist's office from your home and work? Are there any major transportation obstacles for you in getting to the clinic on a daily or weekly basis? It is also important to consider that if you are going to need to get regular allergy shots or treatments that the office is in a convenient location for you.
Make sure you've got coverage
Find out if the allergist accepts your health coverage. A major thing to consider when choosing an allergist is whether or not they take your health insurance. Also - check to see if the clinic staff will bill your insurance company directly for your services so you're not left with any balances owed.
Cost of treatment and follow-up visits - You should also look at how much the initial visit cost as well as the costs of follow-up visits/treatment.
What is their after-hour policy?
Check the after-hours policy of your local allergist to ensure that they have your back if you run into an allergic emergency, such as a severe asthma attack. Some offices will offer after-hours support in case of an emergency, while others may require any urgent issues to be brought directly to the emergency room.
Finding the right allergist for you or someone you love doesn't have to be a daunting task. Follow our tips and you should be off to a great start in getting the care you need.
As a reminder, this article has been written by an author who is not a medical professional, and thus should not be taken as medical advice. You can read more about allergies in some of our other articles.
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