THE BLOG
08/31/2016 12:06 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Who's In Your [Healthcare] Network?

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Recently, an old friend heard her colleague's complaint about painful sciatica. "Call my guy," was her quick response to his agony, and my phone rang.

How does one build a healthcare network (distinct from an insurance network)?


It's Who You Know AND What You Know

The principles for building a reliable local healthcare network are the same as finding reliable sources of information: seek resources and providers that inform rather than sell a product or service. Locate practitioners who want you to be independent with your health, instead of dependent on them. Then, consider the following checklist:

Science: Does the information given by the provider comport with principles of biology, physics, chemistry and anatomy? Does the information make sense?
Credibility: Consider the credentials, experience, reputation and success ratio of the healthcare provider being vetted.
Network: Discuss the results of your search with dependable friends who have found successful solutions for their own comparable health issues.
Trust: Rely on your existing skilled and trusted healthcare providers to be a filter in distinguishing among fact, opinion and marketing, and to provide context.

What Are Your Needs?

Keep your network simple. Not everyone needs a nutritionist, OB-GYN, or pediatrician, but you might. A basic network should include:
  • a general physician
  • a physical therapist
  • a dentist

These three, plus your family, social and professional networks, can help refer to medical specialists, nutritionists, fitness and wellness professionals, orthodontists, and others.

Tech Tools and Referrals

On-line professional listings can be a good place to begin your search, but won't substitute for personal referral and research. Many worthy professionals are not included in on-line listings. Most on-line professional listings lack filters or useful distinctions to match your needs. Ratings systems such as Yelp or GooglePlus may overlook high-quality practitioners who are not engaged with social media. Web search can be more helpful; the more you know about your condition, the use of specific search terms, and the ability to analyze medical research and conference proceedings, the more specific to your needs your results can be.

Starting Fresh In A New Community

If you've recently moved, here are four good sources for building your local healthcare network:
  • your relocation specialist and/or realtor
  • your old, hometown healthcare network -- professional collegiality is now global
  • family, business and social networks (including digital) in your new community
  • a local nurse you've met through schools, work, or community. Nurses often reflect the 'oral tradition' in any healthcare scene.

Keep Your Network Fresh

Once you've created or refreshed your healthcare network, keep it strong and vital by referring others into it. Your doctor, nutritionist, specialist, etc., will remember your referral and be grateful for your confidence.

Who's in your healthcare network? Share a good word and send the names (plus town, specialty) of your trusted practitioners to me at t.edelson@montclairphysicaltherapy.com or join in a Facebook group and post your recommendations to Who's In My Network.

Good luck as you develop or re-develop your network, and contact my office if we can be of assistance. We enjoy more than thirty years of healthcare relationships in the New York metro area, and share worldwide relationships with the most highly-skilled McKenzie Method (MDT) pain solution & prevention practitioners.

Next month: developing national healthcare networks.