Looking for a new primary care doctor? Here is some great advice, some of which may surprise you. When you and your doctor work as a team, you get far better care. But finding a new primary care doctor can be challenging. Begin by looking for a doctor who is:
- Available and can see you when you need to be seen
- Listens to your opinions and concerns
- Encourages you to ask questions
- Explains things in a way you can understand
- Treats you with respect
What does a Primary Care doctor do?
- Someone to watch over you
- Treat most of your health problems
- Know you well
- One point person
- Helps you find the best specialists
- Can take care of all of your urgent care needs
- Encourages you to do things to improve your health (like quitting smoking, drinking less, exercising more and losing weight)
- His/her goal is to optimize your health and wellness to prevent future problems
- Prevent future disease
- Helps making important decisions, like which screening tests and shots to get
Tips to finding a new doctor who’s right for you.
Most sources make 2 critical mistakes when recommending how to find a new doctor:
- Do they take your insurance?
- It doesn’t really matter anymore. Most of us have higher deductibles which we don’t even reach. Unless you have Medicare or Medicaid or a Gold HMO, your going to probably pay cash for your primary care visits.
- What IS important is whether they can refer you for tests and specialists.
- Ask your friends and family.
- This is a great way to find out if a doctor is nice, patient and listens. But not a great way to find out if they are actually “good” at what they do.
- Imagine picking your basketball all-star team based on post-game interview alone. You want the best player–and a decent person (who has time).
- On the other hand, locals in healthcare (RNs, other doctors, PT/OTs, etc) are a great resource!
Healthcare.gov also recommends you ask these important questions about your new doctor’s office:
- Do they offer evening or weekend hours?
- How long will it take to get an appointment?
- What is the average wait time?
- How long are appointments?
- Can you get labs drawn in the office?
- Can you email or text your doctor or his/her office?
- Do they have virtual visits (telemedicine)?
- When you call, get you get someone on the phone? Are they helpful?
- What is the cancellation policy?
WebMD also reminds us to pay attention to the location. Is it easy to get there? Is there easy parking?
Blue Cross/Blue Shield recommends you actually visit the doctor’s office and has this to say:
“Nothing can really give you a feel for whether you’ve selected the right doctor like an office visit and a face-to-face meeting. Be sure you feel comfortable in the office and with the physician and nurses. Your primary care physician should be someone you trust and can rely on to help manage your healthcare. Talk with him or her about any current medications you are taking and your medical history to be sure you are on the same page when it comes to managing any chronic conditions.”
After your first visit.
Think about whether your new doctor and office staff:
- Is the office friendly and courteous?
- Did you feel respected?
- Did the visit feel personalized to you?
- Did the doctor spend enough time with you–or did you feel rushed?
- Did the doctor give you a chance to ask questions?
- Were your questions answered clearly?
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, you may want to keep looking.
If you’ve read this far, you are undoubtedly a more discerning individual looking for better primary care. We know there are a lot of choices and, as is evident from this article, choosing a new doctor is not easy. At Evolve Medical Clinics, our focus is on providing highly personal care, by the areas most outstanding providers in a setting that is peaceful, healing and respectful. If you are interested in learning more about what we do, please click here to learn more.