8 Tips for Choosing an Allergist

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Sarah Lewis, PharmD on May 11, 2020
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    A Personal Decision
    If you need to see an allergist, you have probably already seen your primary care doctor. And you may have already been through some medical testing. Finding the right allergist can seem overwhelming, but your health and quality of life depend on it. How do you find the best allergist for you? Here are important factors to keep in mind.
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    1. Get Referrals
    Start your search with the referral list from your primary care doctor or specialist. Family, friends, and other healthcare professionals are also good resources to ask for recommendations. Take the time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience on Healthgrades.com. As you narrow your list, call each allergist’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor.
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    2. Research the Allergist’s Credentials
    Board certification is an important factor to consider when you are choosing an allergist. Certification tells you that the doctor has the training, skills and experience needed to provide healthcare in allergy and immunology. Also confirm that the allergist has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You can find the allergist’s medical school, training hospital, certifications, and malpractice and disciplinary history on Healthgrades.com and state websites.
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    3. Consider the Allergist’s Experience
    When you’re facing a potential allergy or immune system disorder, experience matters. The more experience an allergist-immunologist has with a particular condition or procedure, the better your results are likely to be. Ask how many patients with your specific condition the allergist-immunologist has treated. If you know you need a specific procedure, ask how many of the procedures the doctor has performed and find out about complication rates—complications the doctor has encountered as well as your own risk of complications.
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    4. Consider Gender
    It’s important for you to feel comfortable with your allergist-immunologist’s gender because you will need to openly discuss personal information. Be sure to ask the allergist about his or her recent training and experience specifically related to your condition and your gender. Because gender matters in some types of care, allergists are becoming more specialized in caring for women and men differently. And treatment centers that focus on gender-specific care are becoming more common.
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    5. Ask About Telehealth Capabilities
    Healthcare providers can diagnose and treat some patients using telecommunications technology, including two-way video, smartphones, and email; it's called telehealth. Ask if the doctor offers telehealth capabilities. Telehealth doesn’t replace hands-on in-person office visits, but for many patients, it means fewer trips to the doctor’s office. Some conditions can be managed by sending symptoms and vital signs you collect at home and having a “virtual visit” with your provider. Telehealth can also be used for routine follow-ups and minor complaints too, making it a convenient option. Check to make sure your health insurance will pay for telehealth services.
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    6. Evaluate Communication Style
    Choose an allergist with whom you are comfortable talking and who supports your information needs. When you first meet the allergist, ask a question and notice how he or she responds. Does he or she welcome your questions and answer them in ways that you can understand? Find an allergist who shows an interest in getting to know you, who will consider your treatment preferences, and who will respect your decision-making process.
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    7. Read Patient Reviews
    Reading what other people have to say about a doctor can provide insight into how a doctor practices medicine, as well as how his or her medical practice is operated. Patient reviews typically reflect people's experience with scheduling appointments, wait times, office environment, and office friendliness. You can learn how well patients trust the doctor, how much time he or she spends with their patients, and how well he or she answers questions.
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    8. Know What Your Insurance Covers
    Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your care, you may need to choose an allergist-immunologist who participates in your plan. You should still consider credentials, experience, outcomes, and hospital quality as you select an allergist-immunologist from your plan.
8 Tips for Choosing an Allergist

About The Author

Sarah Lewis is a pharmacist and a medical writer with over 25 years of experience in various areas of pharmacy practice. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree from West Virginia University and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She completed Pharmacy Practice Residency training at the University of Pittsburgh/VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. 
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2017 May 22
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.