Finding a good doctor is extremely important but can be a gruesome process in Qatar due to lack of availability of convenient and proper information. How many times have you been to a doctor and came out regretting your decision? It could have been because of his/her bad bedside manners, or the waiting time at the clinic was so long that you were exhausted even before meeting the doctor. Similarly, the receptionist could have been rude. Had someone told you anything about the doctor or clinic beforehand things could have been better; perhaps a place where you could’ve looked up his/her credentials to see what other people feel about the doctor.
We put together a list of steps to choosing a doctor in Qatar that you will like.
1. Ask your friends and family
First, you should ask your friends and family for doctor recommendations, because all of us have a personal history with health care – good and bad, and most of us share those experiences with our friends and families. So if you frequently hear good things about a particular doctor or clinic, you might want to make an appointment with there. The chances of you being disappointed is low because you trust your friends and family’s recommendation more than anyone else’s.
2. Ask your employer and colleagues
You might be new to the country and may not have made many friends, or your family may not have moved yet. You probably moved here for a new job and have health insurance provided by your employer. Likely, you want to find a doctor/clinic supported under your insurance, in that case, recommendations from your colleagues will help, because they have the same insurance provider as you. You can also ask someone in HR at your company because most companies compile a list of well known clinics that they provide to new employees, it’s usually part of the new employee on-boarding process.
3. Search on Online Expat Forums
There are quite a few online expat forums here such as QatarLiving, IloveQatar, ExpatWoman that people resort to for questions and for classifieds. Most of them have several threads related to health care. People are constantly asking recommendations for good gynecologists, the location of a particular clinic, price of treatment for getting braces, etc. A good way to get insights from other peoples’ experiences and interact with them is here.
4. Use Facebook groups
Facebook groups have become increasingly popular in Qatar, lately. One of the most popular one is When, Where & How in Doha. People use it for asking all kinds of questions or to give each other tips and recommendations. Some other groups recently have spun out of it such as Doha Docs, Meds & More!: Which is a good place to get doctor recommendations and discuss medicines and alternate treatments. The other one is Doctors Finder Qatar that got over 700 people in the group within a few days. It is primarily aimed towards helping people find doctors for different specializations. The best thing about using Facebook groups is that the content is always fresh because it shows up in peoples’ newsfeed and lots of people frequently contribute.
5. Research Online
You have tried all the above methods and now you have gotten a name of a doctor that you are thinking of going to but you’re still not sure about it. You only have his/her name and specialization, but don’t know anything else about the doctor and would like to know more. At this point you could try to google the doctor by his name, followed by his specialization, and might end up on the doctor’s clinic website. Which provides more information about the doctor such as his/her picture, specialization, and credentials. More importantly you want to find the clinic location, preferably through a map. Because someone saying it is next to “D-ring road” doesn’t help much when you don’t even know where D-ring road is. You probably want to use your smartphone to easily navigate to the clinic using Google maps.
6. Check their credentials.
One of the most important criteria in deciding which doctor to go to is their qualifications. You want to know if the doctor has gone to a good medical school, has practised in a country with a good national health strategy, and is exposed to diverse types of patients and diseases in his/her respective specialization. It’s not convenient to find that kind of information on the internet, so you can try to manually call the clinic and ask the receptionist about a doctor’s credentials and where he/she has practised before. This could be a very tedious process, as many receptionists don’t know that information and will ask the doctor and get back to you. Another way could be to use the clinic’s website to find that information. Less than 30% of private clinics in Qatar have websites and very few of them provide that kind of information on their website.
7. Choose a doctor who can communicate.
It’s very important to find a doctor who can communicate things in a manner that is easy to understand. Find a doctor who is relatable and empathizes you. You might want to find a doctor who is from the same country as you or speaks your native language. Qatar is home to a very diverse population and chances are English or Arabic is not your native language. You want to find a doctor who speaks your desired language and can explain things that you can easily understand. After all, it’s your health! you need to understand what’s going on.
8. Meet with your potential doctors
Figure out a list of qualities you want in your doctor and things that are important to you. Do you care about the gender of the doctor? Does health insurance influence your decision? Is the clinic close to where you live? What are the clinic hours and do they work for you? Do they accept appointments beforehand, since there are quite a few clinics here who do not accept appointments. Some are only walk-ins and are very popular, so waiting times can be in hours. Does the doctor speak your desired language? Meet with your potential doctors and see if they have qualities that you are looking for.
9. Ask your own GPs or Family medicine doctors to recommend a specialist
Quite a few people resort to going to a Cardiologist for a minor chest pain that can be treated by a GP. Your first point of contact should always be your General Practitioner or Family Medicine doctor, whom you frequently visit. They know you the best and will refer you to a specialist, if needed. If you do need to see a specialist for your condition, they might be able to refer you to a good one that they know. GPs and Family Med doctors are the best ones to evaluate a specialist, because not only are they doctors themselves and can evaluate the course of treatment prescribed by the specialist, but they also have insights on their patients who go to a particular specialist and their satisfaction with him/her.
Do you have any more tips for choosing a doctor? Let us know!