When faced with the problem of how to find a neurologist for epilepsy, the challenge can feel daunting. Sometimes you just need to do a little homework before you allow any old fool to monkey around with your brain. Really, finding a new neurologist can be the most annoying thing.
Well maybe not the most annoying thing. Waking up after a seizure in a conference room full of people–now that’s pretty annoying.
Since I’ve managed to get myself on the patient list of some of the leading neurologists in the country, I thought I would share the process I go through every time I have to look for a new neurologist.
Note: This article was first published on the site in 2009. I’ve updated it a bit but honestly most of the content remains true today.
Find a Neurologist
Step 1. See if you need a referral
Find out whether or not your insurance requires you to have a referral from your primary care physician. If you do, then keep this in mind as you are searching for your new doc. You can ask your primary care who they recommend but they will send you to the same person they send everyone else to, so its good to shop around. Some insurance carriers will allow you to make the appointment without the referral and others will not. Find that out too.
Step 2. Decide what you want
Figure out what you want out of this new doctor. Make a list, even if it’s not on paper. Does this person have to be a man or a woman? Do you want to see the head of the department or the lead researcher (PS. I don’t recommend either of these, neither are focused on patient care)? Would you prefer to see someone in private practice or working in a teaching hospital? Once you have your list of “must have” qualities then move on to the next step.
Make sure on that list you include how easy it is to get to the doctor (step 4), whether or not they are in-network for your insurance(step 5), if they are focused on epilepsy (you’d be surprised how often this is overlooked) (step 6), and considerations for any other conditions you are living with.
Step 3. Check out the Top Docs in your area (optional)
Top Docs USA
This bit is a little outdated, its also a pay to play element of the game. But it is a good place to start learning about who has a long track record of success in the area. You’ll want to learn more about anyone who has been a Top Doc for a few years running. One year doesn’t cut it.
Step 4. Find a neurologist close to You
Close to you can mean closest to your work or your home or your child’s school–whatever will work for you. Location is important. You may need to visit this doctor often and the office damn well better be convenient. You can find out how convenient it is by getting directions from your location to theirs on Google Maps.
Step 5. Make sure insurance will cover your neurologist
You also need to determine which neurologist is in your health insurance network. This step assumes that you have health insurance.
If you don’t have health insurance consider applying for aid. Prescriptions and doctors visits can be expensive so look into getting support.
If you do have health insurance, go to your insurance company’s website. Most sites have a “find a doctor” section. Plug in the name of the neurologist you are hoping to see. The site will show you whether or not the doc is in network or out of network. You want to see an in network doctor to ensure that insurance covers as much as possible of the costs.
Step 6. Check to see if the neurologist focuses on epilepsy
Once you have found a neurologist that is nearby and in network, make sure that person subspecializes in epilepsy. Most neurologists focus on a particular area of study, sometimes it is neurodegenerative disease, sometimes it is movement disorders and sometimes it is epilepsy. If you don’t see any reference to epilepsy in their profile, then they are probably not a good fit for you.
Step 7. Make an appointment
Once you have done all this just call and make an appointment. Depending on where you are the wait might be longer than you want. So have a few names handy.
Step 8. Cross T’s and Dot I’s
Once you’ve made an appointment you may need to go back to your primary care physician to get that referral. Hopefully they just put it in the system and connect it to your record. Be sure to ask them to give you a referral for multiple visits. This seems obvious but it doesn’t always happen.
I know, it seems like too many steps, but I swear it’s worth it.