Whether you have recently moved or are just ready for a change, selecting a primary care physician is one of the most important steps towards managing your healthcare. Your primary care doctor is your medical “home”, and you should feel 100% comfortable and confident with your choice of provider.
When choosing the right provider stick to the basics:
- Select someone you feel comfortable having honest conversations with, after all, you will be discussing very personal details with this person.
- Choose a doctor with expertise in the areas that meet your health needs. For example, you might require a doctor that specializes in pediatrics in addition to family practice.
- Check to see if your candidates are “in-network” for your health insurance plans. Otherwise, you may be in for a shocking surprise when your co-pay arrives!
So exactly how do you determine who fits the mold for your medical care? We’ve put together a few helpful tips to aid you in your quest to find the perfect primary care provider for your family.
Referrals and online reviews are an excellent resource during the initial phase of researching potential candidates for your primary care provider. Start by asking your friends and coworkers whom they would suggest. Check out these providers online to see what other patients are saying about them. Be sure to ask people who are in the same boat as you. For example, you wouldn’t ask your childless coworker for a recommendation for a local pediatrician. Don’t forget to confirm that any new primary care doctor is recognized as an “in-network” provider, as “out-of-network” providers cost you more. You may have very specific requirements for your provider, but the right doctor is out there.
Date Before You Commit
Think of your first visit with your potential doctor as the “coffee” date. You wouldn’t dive head first into a relationship with a weekend getaway before a few low-key test dates, and the same theory applies to find a doctor. Make an initial consultation to discuss a minor problem, perhaps a nagging cough or a mole check. Your initial appointment allows you to assess your potential physician and meet the support staff. It’s within your right to be selective. I have changed practitioners due to negative reception and nursing staff. When a great physician is surrounded by a support staff that leaves you feeling uneasy and frustrated they are probably not the right fit. Remember, just like with first dates, everyone will be on his or her best behavior during your “meet and greet” so be sure to schedule a follow-up visit after your initial consultation goes well.
Take Your Time
The search for your new doctor is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re seeking to cultivate a long-term relationship with your practitioner, with the intent of building that relationship over the course of the next few years. Take your time to ensure the relationship is on track to meet your healthcare needs.
Trust Your Instincts
Above all, follow your gut. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of selecting your healthcare provider. It’s perfectly okay to pass on a doctor because there is something you just don’t like. You need to feel comfortable with your family doctor; you should like your provider and not dread having to make an appointment. If something doesn’t feel right, or you feel uncomfortable for any reason just move on to your next candidate. The right doctor is out there, and with a little patience, you will find them.