The doctor-patient relationship is a vital part of treating any condition, especially when it comes to a chronic disease such as osteoarthritis (OA). How comfortable you are when it comes to engaging with your healthcare provider can affect all aspects of your treatment plan.

Here are some guidelines for assessing an OA doctor.

Research shows that people are more active in their own healthcare when they have doctors who treat them with respect and fairness, communicate well, and engage with them beyond the office setting. Satisfied patients are more likely to commit to healthy behaviors, such as monitoring blood pressure, exercising regularly, and following medication regimens.

When looking for an OA doctor, seek out the following traits. This can optimize your healthcare treatment.

1. Accountability

If you have chronic OA, you want to be sure you have an accountable and experienced rheumatologist. Your healthcare team may later include other specialists, such as a physical therapist, orthopedic surgeon, or chiropractor. It’s important to evaluate each of these doctors as well.

2. Up-to-date knowledge

Arthritis research is continuously evolving. Your doctor should be up to date on the latest studies, information, and treatment techniques. Ideally, they’ll be a trusted resource for your physical treatment, as well as the financial matters of that treatment. According to the Arthritis Foundation, a good doctor will be willing to go to bat with your insurance provider when necessary.

3. Accessibility

You want to feel like your doctor has the time to meet or talk with you. The most accessible doctors today use several means of communication, including phone, email, text message, or virtual visits via FaceTime or Skype. Make sure you also feel comfortable with the office staff, such as the nurses, receptionists, and physician’s assistants.

After you’ve chosen a healthcare provider, it’s important to assess your care and overall experience. The American Board of Internal Medicine developed a helpful survey that encourages patients to reflect on their relationship with their doctor. This analysis includes everything from whether you feel like your doctor is interested in your needs to whether you believe your doctor is being honest with you.

While thinking about your doctor’s role, you should also assess your role in the doctor-patient relationship. Are you being honest when answering questions? Are you asking the right questions, and fully engaging in the treatment process? Are you being diligent in following your doctor’s instructions? Remember, it’s a two-way street, and you play an important role in the dynamic with your OA.