Choosing a primary care doctor is an important decision
|Finding a primary care physician who meets your needs is an important healthcare decision.|
Choosing a primary care doctor is one of the most important healthcare decisions you can make. But it can be difficult to find reliable, easy-to-understand information about doctors or practices. You can talk to friends and family members, and check out online ratings reviews. Here are some additional strategies and resources that can help you find a new doctor, or take a closer look at one that you already have.
If you know a doctor, nurse, or health care professional, ask for the names of doctors or practices in your area they like and trust. You should also consider what kind of doctor you want – someone who can care for your entire family, or who focuses on women, children, or older people?
Then, use your insurer’s directory or search on its website for doctors in your network. Because doctors often add or drop plans, call the office to verify that the doctor still accepts your insurance. In addition, your choice of doctor can determine which hospital you go to, if needed, so find out where the doctor has admitting privileges. And be sure to find out how that facility compares with others in the area.
Video: How to choose a primary care physician – IU Health (1:42)
Editor’s Note: This video is from an external source and is provided for informational purposes only. AEP does not endorse any specific medical institutions or healthcare facilities, individuals, or specific medical recommendations noted.
Be aware of red flags. They include malpractice claims and disciplinary actions. Even a good doctor can get sued once or twice, but more than that raises serious questions. You can check state medical boards and other online resources to check up on doctors.
Consider compatibility. Most Americans focus on personality and compatibility when choosing a doctor, and why not? You hope this is going to be a long-term relationship. Use your first visit as a “job interview.” Does the doctor listen to you without interrupting? Does he or she display empathy and care? Does he or she fully answer your questions? Do they explain your diagnosis and treatment, and specify a date for a follow up visit?
Other factors to consider:
- Office policies and staff. Ask how long it takes to make an appointment for a routine visit (it should be less than a week), whether same-day appointments can be scheduled, and how long patients can expect to wait in the waiting room. Look for a staff that’s friendly, efficient, and respectful. You will probably spend more time interacting with these folks than with your doctor.
- Doctor-patient technology. Electronic health records let your doctor efficiently track your medical history. Online, secure access allows patients to view their health information, book and track appointments, request prescription refills and email questions to their doctor.
Source: Consumer Reports