Thursday, December 20, 2012

Searching For a Therapist Will Leave You Needing a Therapist


Finding a therapist or psychiatrist is a miserable process. Both have specialization criteria that disqualifies them as a good fit. To find candidates you can search Google, but Google doesn't have a sane place to get the information from so it can't give helpful answers: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Google will invariably refer you to the Psychology Today referral site. Their search/selection criteria is spotty at best. It's a magazine after all and I can't help but be skeptical about their listings.

We've never had a Primary Care Provider that could refer us directly, nor have he had a health care network that would give referrals. They direct us to our insurance provider's "Find a Doctor" site.

I've tried to use this functionality through Blue Shield and Blue Cross respectively. I don't know their commercial relationship but their "Find a Doctor" search has been the same. You find a general field for a doctor and they give you a list with name, gender, address, and phone number. The "Accepting new patients" filter seems to have no bearing on whether or not the doctor is Accepting new patients. You can click on one doctor's listing to get details, but that loses your place in the search and you have to start over.

I finally gave up trying to get recommendations. I started going down the list and just calling. Of course they never answer the phone; they're probably in session and can't. So you're left to leave messages and hope they call you back. I called about 25 offices and left in the neighborhood of a dozen messages. Several I was able to skip leaving a message because their voicemail indicated that they weren't accepting new patients. I got 3 quick responses noting they weren't accepting new patients, and I appreciate knowing right away I can cross them off the list. One I eliminated because the voicemail greeting indicated that they worked in pediatrics.

Overall, I most appreciated those 2-3 offices I called where a human being was able to quickly tell me that they weren't a good candidate. Second were those whose voicemail let me know they weren't a good candidate. Third were those that returned my call quickly; one was via text message, which was great.

I'm struggling to understand why this is so difficult. The insurance provider seems like the best place to get this information together. They can't seem eliminate ineligible providers. I'm wondering if it's because they don't actually know about their providers (which would seem pretty reprehensible) or they just don't know how to organize this data. As it stands, their service is little more than a private phonebook. Hell, yellow pages listings would probably have been more helpful.

1 comment:

  1. I've sufferd the same problem from both sides, finding a therapist and working in IT at a mental health insurer. The problem is they can't handle the data. The people working at the insurance company were mostly doctors, therapists, or patients. They are great, caring people when you meet them and talk to them but that doesn't equal good with managing piles of data. One of my biggest pain points with work was and still is that the most accurate information is in people's heads not any of our IT systems.

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