Finding the right primary care doctor can be extremely overwhelming, especially if you haven’t found the right one or have moved and don’t know where to begin. But there’s no denying that you need one. This is the one doctor who is supposed to know you the best. They should know your medical history inside and out as well as your lifestyle, personality, and where to send you if they can’t help. If you’re with them long enough, you will develop an uncanny level of trust.
Basically, choosing the right primary care doctor is the most important health decision you could ever make. So if you’re in the market for one, where do you start? How do you narrow your search? Start with these 10 tips:
Ask for referrals
Perhaps there is no better stamp of approval than a referral from a friend, family member, coworker, or even another healthcare professional. Anyone who has been a patient can fill you in on everything from wait times to the quality of the office staff and the doctor’s bedside manner. This doesn’t guarantee that you and that primary care doctor will be a good match. But a referral is a great place to start and will help you proceed with confidence.
Look at where their office is
You could get five or six quality referrals from friends and family, but make sure they are all close to where you live or work. People tend to visit their primary care doctor more than any other medical professional, so if possible, seek out convenient options.
Check which insurance they accept
Just like no two doctors are the same, not every doctor’s office is structured the same in terms of what types of insurance they take. Obviously, you will pay less out of pocket with an in-network doctor, so do your research or even call the office and ask the front desk. This will help you avoid any surprises.
Look at hospital affiliations
To piggyback off the previous tip, it’s important to know which hospitals the doctor uses. While the doctor accepts your insurance, the hospital may not. You may also not feel comfortable at that particular hospital should the need arise. Knowing this will help narrow down your search.
Conduct online research
In today’s age of social media, you don’t have to rely solely on friends and family to point you in the right direction. Search reviews on Yelp and Facebook or on the doctor’s website to see what other patients have to say. You can also see if the doctor has written anything that’s been published or if they have a professional bio online.
Pay the doctor a visit
If you’ve checked off every box above, now is a great time to drop in or schedule a meet and greet with the doctor and his or her nurses. This will give you the chance to see with your own eyes how the facility is operated, how long you have to wait, how busy the doctor typically is, and if your personalties match. Compatibility is huge; your local primary doctor and his or her staff should put you at ease when in their presence.
Many doctor’s offices nowadays are going beyond the typical 9-5 shift to provide evening and weekend appointments. This may be a deciding factor for you if you work long hours and can only get in during odd hours.
Working as a team
Rather than dictate a set of instructions with every visit, your primary care doctor should want you to be just as much a part of the treatment program as they are. They should encourage questions, listen more than they talk, and when they do speak, do so in language that you can understand.
What did we leave off? Do you have any tips for your fellow neighbor when it comes to choosing a quality primary care doctor? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.