RX for Finding A New Doctor

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Picking a new doctor can be a daunting task, especially if you’re just working off a long list of names pulled from your insurance company’s website.

“Does your doctor look you in the eye?”

We asked some of our own doctors to help with this ongoing series where Cedars-Sinai doctors will share what they look for in a doctor.

Here’s their advice on what to look for in a doctor:

Dr. Robert Klapper, orthopaedic surgeon and director of the Cedars-Sinai Joint Replacement Program

  • Don’t believe everything a search engine tells you. Search engine algorithms change frequently, and just because a name pops up first, doesn’t mean you’ve found the right doctor for you. “You can spend money to improve your search results.”
  • When looking for a surgeon, ask other experts. Dr. Klapper asks nurses and anesthesiologists who they think the best surgeons are. They see everyone work.
  • The one question Dr. Klapper always asks when he’s looking for a primary care physician: For primary care, Dr. Klapper suggests asking friends and neighbors. And the question he says you should ask is, “Does your doctor look you in the eye? That’s what I always want to know.”

There’s nothing trendy about good medicine, Dr. Klapper says.

“We live in the internet age,” he says. “The age of robots and GPS navigation. But what you’re looking for in a surgeon or an internist is an artist. That’s something that never goes out of style.”

Dr. Klapper is a sculptor and the son of a carpenter. So it’s not surprising that when it comes to surgeons, he places a premium on someone being good with their hands over reliance on robotic techniques.

“Your doctor shouldn’t be more focused on the computer screen than you.”

Dr. Allen Ho, surgical oncologist and director of the Cedars-Sinai Head and Neck Cancer Program

  • Find out if they do research. It’s a good way to find out if they keep up with what’s new in their field of medicine. If they don’t conduct research themselves, see if they’re members in a medical academy or society.
  • Limit typing during appointments. He likes doctors who are paying attention to what he’s saying and not typing during his visit. “I know this isn’t easy since time is tight and we all want to get home at a decent hour,” Dr. Ho says. “But, I know for a fact that doctors are not great multitaskers, and typing takes away from focusing on the patient.” Typing some notes during the appointment might happen. “But your doctor shouldn’t be more focused on the computer screen than you.”
  • Remember that your PCP is the doctor who should know you best. An ideal primary care physician (PCP) is good at connecting with patients, Dr. Ho says. Making eye contact and putting you at ease are important. This isn’t just the doctor you see when you’re sick. “Part of the PCP’s job is getting to know you,” he says.

Read: The Music of Medicine: Physician Playlists


Experience matters, no matter what kind of doctor you’re looking for, says Dr. Ho. Specifically, he looks for doctors who have training and fellowships from multiple institutions, have done research, travel, or have other varied life experiences that make them well-rounded.

“Broad experience is important to me because a primary care physician needs to have great perspective in understanding a patient holistically,” he says. “Someone with a wide range of life experience is going to be better prepared to connect with many different patients.”

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