Maybe you’ve decided it’s time to break up with your current urologist. Or maybe you’re a new patient. Maybe your urologist recently retired, or you moved. Whatever the reason, looking for a new urologist can seem daunting, especially trying to locate one who knows about IC/BPS.
To begin with, you need to determine what kind of urology help you’re looking for: local, regional or national. A local urologist can be helpful in managing your treatment but can also not know much about IC and newer treatments. In fact, there are still urologists who don’t believe IC actually exists. Local urologists are usually the first stop for IC patients.
But when you need more treatment than your local urologist can provide or find him or her greatly lacking in knowledge of IC, you might need to look farther from home. A regional specialist is usually found at the bigger cities in your area. Many regional centers offer more knowledge about IC treatment than local urologists. A lot of them are through university medical centers and involved more in the latest research. However, that isn’t always the case.(1)
If you have a more complex case or are striking out both locally and regionally, considering a national specialist might be a good idea. About a dozen clinics in the United States have national reputations for treating IC well. If a national center is within reasonable driving distance, consider making the drive for a quality urology evaluation and treatment plan.(1)
Once you’ve determined where you are looking for help, it’s time to figure out which urologist is best for you.
1. Check out the ICN database
The IC Network has compiled a database of medical professionals from around the world who have a strong interest in treating IC patients. The ICN database is a great starting place to find IC providers near you. The database lets you put in your zip code and how many miles away you want the search to go and then generates a list of urology professionals within that area.(2)
2. Ask around.
Other patients usually have good input on doctors they’ve seen. You can start with family or friends you know have seen urologists in the area where you’re looking and then move on to asking in patient groups or forums. Most patients who have been dealing with IC for at least a year will have great input on which urologists are good and which to avoid.(3)
3. Talk to your primary care physician.
Your primary care doctor is a great source for finding a good urologist. Primary care doctors work with specialists and often have favorite ones they’d recommend and others they would steer you away from. They can be a great resource in looking for a new urologist. It’s an important conversation to have, especially if your insurance requires you have a referral from your primary care physician to see a urologist.(4)
4. Check with your insurance company.
While an insurance company can’t necessarily tell you which urologists a great for treating IC, it can tell you which providers are in your network and which aren’t. And considering the expense of medical care, making sure you have a provider who is covered by your medical insurance plan is a great idea. At the very least, you want to know if you are going to have to pay everything out of pocket and whether that expense is feasible or worth it for you. Be sure to check whether you need a referral from your family physician in order for a urology appointment to be covered.(3)
5. Investigate the hospital the urologist is affiliated with.
Along with checking which urologists are covered, check whether the hospital the urologist is affiliated with is also covered by your insurance. If you need to have any procedures done, your urologist will do them at his or her affiliated hospital, so you want to make sure your insurance works with the hospital itself.(5)
You also want to find a urologist who works in hospital you are comfortable with and feel good about. You can even check this searchable database from Harvard Health of the best hospitals for urology in the United States.(6)
6. Research the urologist’s credentials.
Once you have started narrowing down your search for a new urologist, check out his or her credentials. A visit to medical directories, like this one from the American Board of Medical Specialties, can tell you whether a doctor is board-certified in urology.(5) You can go further and check with state or local medical societies to determine more information about the urologist, including how many years he or she has been in practice and how many procedures he or she has performed.(5)
7. Consider location and convenience.
If you are looking for a local urologist, you want to find one who is within a reasonable driving distance for you, especially for times you might need emergent care. If you are looking for a regional or national urologist, consider whether you can feasibly make it to that location for appointments and any procedures.(5)
8. Check out patient satisfaction surveys.
Various websites offer the option for patients to leave feedback about health care professionals. Reading through some of the comments can be helpful in looking for a new urologist. But, beware that not everything you read on the internet is factual. Many reviews are left by people who are either very pleased with a service or very unhappy with a service.(4)
9. Pay attention to the staff.
When you call in to see about making an appointment with a new urologist, how is the call handled? Is the staff professional and courteous? Are they helpful? If they aren’t, then no matter how great the urologist may be, it could be difficult to get in to see him or her or get prescription refills when you need them.(3)
10. Go with your instincts.
If you go to see a new urologist and you have a bad feeling about him or her, go with your instincts. If the urologist isn’t listening to you, taking you seriously or seems to know how to treat IC patients, then consider continuing your search for a new urologist. There are some great medical professionals treating IC; you don’t have to settled for someone subpar who you don’t like or trust.(3)
- IC Network. Local Regional and National IC Specialists.
- IC Network. Find an IC Doctor or Physical Therapist – USA, Canada & Australia.
- United Healthcare. 10 Tips for Choosing a Primary Care Doctor. Nov. 7, 2017.
- Health Grades. 8 Tips for Choosing a Urologist.
- Urologists.org. How to Find a Good Urologist.
- U.S. News & World Report. Best Hospitals for Urology.