Finding the right doctor who meets your needs as a person with Parkinson’s disease can be daunting. I have consulted with 11 neurologists, seven of whom were movement disorder specialists (MDS), in the five years since my initial diagnosis in 2015.
Following are my top criteria in choosing what I like to refer to as my partner on this Parkinson’s journey:
Is the doctor open-minded about alternative approaches?
While I believe there is a place for prescription drugs in the treatment of Parkinson’s, I do not want the doctor’s primary focus to be all about prescribing drugs.
Upon lamenting to my current neurologist about how long it takes me to get dressed due to my bradykinesia, he suggested I try dancing while getting dressed. He also suggested I try meditation to calm my anxiety. These are the types of prescriptions I can sink my teeth into, and they both helped!
Is the doctor easily accessible for questions?
Going through an assistant to get a question to the doctor, then having to wait days for a response after playing phone tag is not desirable. Ideally, it is preferable that the doctor be accessible via email to respond quickly.
Does the doctor treat me as a person with Parkinson’s and not just treat the disease?
I want my doctor to understand my lifestyle and who I am as a person. I want them to consider it when suggesting a treatment for me. See #1 above.
Is telemedicine an option?
COVID-19 has facilitated the implementation of telemedicine. The fact that insurance will cover these types of visits further enhances this option. This has been a godsend for me and has saved me hours of driving. My movement disorder specialist’s office is over 80 miles from my home. In addition, my doctors have a much better track record at being on time for my telemedicine appointment compared with in-office visits.
Is the doctor benefiting from pharmaceutical payments?
While I would not judge the quality of treatment provided by a doctor solely on the fact that they have taken money from pharmaceutical companies, I believe the potential exists that a doctor might be swayed to recommend certain treatments over others.
One doctor I visited received payments from pharmaceutical companies averaging over $200,000 for a two-year period. That doctor received the second-largest payment from the pharmaceutical company that produced the medication I was prescribed during those two years.
Does the doctor feel threatened by my questions?
Self-education in Parkinson’s and being current in new treatment options are critical. They help me to formulate intelligent questions and allow me to challenge my doctor about something they might suggest that I don’t feel right about. I will not continue with a doctor that gets defensive when I ask them questions, or if a treatment suggestion must be their way or the highway.
It’s worth the effort
It has taken me several years to find a neurologist and an MDS that meet the majority of my criteria. It has been worth the effort of trial and error. I consider these doctors as long-term partners with me in my Parkinson’s treatment plan.
“Doctors are our partners, and they need all the assistance we can give them to be sure we get the right diagnosis.” — Ann Richards
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.
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