Stomach issues can be uncomfortable to talk about, but they shouldn’t be ignored. It’s important to pay attention to any concerning symptoms, like frequent stomach pain, unexplained weight loss, or chronic diarrhea. If you have any of those symptoms, or if you have been having other issues with your digestive system, you might need to see a gastroenterologist.
A gastroenterologist, or gastroenterology doctor, specializes in disorders and diseases of the digestive system, such as ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and pancreatitis. Although you can sometimes book an appointment with a gastroenterologist yourself, your insurance might require you to get a referral from your primary care provider first. You might also need to get the process started sooner than later—depending on where you live, provider availability, and other circumstances, it might take a while to get an appointment.
If you’re looking for the best gastroenterologist in CT, there are several key factors you should look for.
Board certification and credentials
During your gastroenterologist search, you might come across the term “board certified.” Although physicians already go through a rigorous education and training process, board certification shows that a physician has exceeded the minimum standards and competency requirements in their specialty.
You can verify a potential physician’s credentials through the American Board of Medical Specialties or a related certifying body. You can also check the doctor’s education and active licenses on the Federation of State Medical Boards website. Most doctors will also have their hospital affiliations listed on their profiles. You can research the hospital to see what kind of reputation they have for gastroenterology services, and what the facility is like. They may have advanced technologies and equipment that enable them to provide comprehensive care.
When you look into your gastroenterologist’s background, you may also want to check to make sure they do not have any disciplinary actions or malpractice claims against them.
Experience and expertise
Your gastroenterologist’s experience and expertise should meet your unique needs. Look for a gastroenterologist who has expertise in a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions, including:
- Acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD
- Abdominal pain syndrome
- Dyspepsia and indigestion
- Nausea and vomiting
The doctor you choose should also have experience managing conditions like IBD, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or liver diseases. If you will need a procedure done, such as a colonoscopy or endoscopy, make sure your doctor has expertise in those areas.
Specialized services and procedures
Some gastroenterologists may specialize in specific disorders or organs. A common subspecialty is hepatology, which deals with the liver and requires an additional one-year fellowship. Other subspecialties include advanced endoscopy and neurogastroenterology. If you need specific treatments or procedures, you want to make sure the gastroenterologist you choose offers those services. You’ll also want to make sure the facility is equipped to provide that specialized care.
If your primary care doctor refers you to a gastroenterologist, it can be helpful to ask what their experience with them has been like. Has your doctor worked with them before? Do they have a good reputation among their peers? If you need to see the gastroenterologist regularly, you want to know if they’ll be able to collaborate with your primary care doctor if necessary to coordinate your care.
Communication with patients
Gastrointestinal diseases can be mild, or they can include more chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. These conditions can be complex and require long-term management, so it’s important for your gastroenterologist to be able to communicate effectively about your condition and the treatment options. You also want to make sure the gastroenterologist listens attentively and takes the time to answer your questions and concerns. Feeling heard is an important part of the doctor-patient relationship.
Patient reviews and satisfaction
Although every patient will have a different experience, you can get a general sense of what to expect by reading online reviews. Try not to focus too much on one review; instead, look at the overall trend.
Patients might include:
- Communication before and after the appointment
- Wait times
- Interactions with staff, including the front desk or schedulers
- Overall satisfaction with the doctor’s care
You can find patient reviews on websites like Healthgrades or RateMDs. Keep in mind that people are more likely to write negative reviews than positive ones, so use your best judgment when deciding whom to choose.
The last thing you want to happen is to find a gastroenterologist you like, just to find out they’re not covered by your insurance. Choosing a doctor outside of your insurance coverage can lead to potentially hefty out-of-pocket costs. You can call your insurance provider or check their online directory to verify whether or not the doctor is in their network. The doctor’s office can also confirm your insurance eligibility.
Availability and accessibility
If you work full-time, you know how difficult it can be to schedule a doctor’s appointment during office hours. You might want to look for a gastroenterologist who has extended hours or offers telemedicine visits. You also want to make sure you can get in touch with your doctor if something urgent comes up. If you do plan to have in-person visits, you should check the location of the office. Is it convenient for you, or is there something closer?
It’s possible you’ll find a gastroenterologist that looks good on paper, but with whom you don’t really click. Your instincts and judgment matter just as much—if not more—than any other factor. If you don’t feel respected or comfortable with a gastroenterologist, or any doctor, you can always change your mind and look for someone new.
Getting an appointment with a gastroenterologist relies on a number of factors, including appointment availability, the urgency of your condition, your location, and more. You might be able to easily schedule an appointment with one doctor, but have trouble scheduling with another. It’s OK to keep your options open until you find the right fit.
If you’re looking for the best gastroenterologist in CT, the PACT Gastroenterology Center can help. The center was founded by a group of dedicated physicians who were interested in creating an innovative and progressive medical practice devoted to providing sophisticated, state-of-the-art medical care in a warm and caring environment.
The goal of the center was to help people rather than just treat diseases and maintain the interests of patients as the primary focus of the practice. We have offices in Hamden, Milford, and Guilford. Reach out today to ask us a question or to book an appointment with one of our specialists.