How to Choose Your Primary Care Physician

Your primary care doctor is the most crucial part of your health care journey. You don’t want to pick a random name from your insurance provider’s list and entrust your well-being to someone you barely know. Here’s how to choose the right physician for your health needs:

1. Ask for recommendations

It’s a good idea to check online reviews and ratings of your prospective doctors, but it’s still best to ask for personal referrals. Your friends, family, or co-workers’ recommendations can be a great start in identifying highly-skilled practitioners who’ll meet your medical needs. They can share their experiences with the doctor and tell you about their observations in the clinic.

Most health care facilities adhere to hospital hygiene, but you can quickly uncover their sanitation practices by talking with people who had a first-hand experience. They can be able to tell you if the physicians use lab autoclave to sterilize reusable medical instruments, sanitize their waiting rooms, or disinfect high-touched surfaces.

2. Consider your health plan

Once you’ve identified potential candidates, call your insurance provider to check which of them are “in-network” doctors. Most insurance plans offer financial incentives when you use plan-affiliated physicians. If you choose a doctor that is not in your plan’s network, you will not be able to take advantage of discounted rates, or you might have to pay full out-of-pocket charges.

3. Choose the doctor with a convenient location

Even the best doctor who is far away from your home or office might not be useful if you need immediate care. If you break your arm or you are sick, you wouldn’t want to drive for miles before getting the medical attention you need. A study reveals that a lesser distance from a primary care doctor increases a patient’s odds of recovery. Proximity will make it easier for you to keep appointments and get timely medical attention.

4. Check the doctor’s availability

Some physicians have a limited schedule, and you might have to wait for several weeks before you can get an appointment. Aside from the doctor’s patient scheduling, you also need to check his office hours. Remember that your time is also valuable, and you wouldn’t want to take time off work to be in-sync with the clinic’s open hours. It’s best to choose a doctor with several available appointments, so you don’t have to wait or go to an urgent care clinic for acute concerns.

5. Choose the doctor who makes you feel comfortable

Doctor checking little girl's heartbeat

When you’ve identified 2 or 3 doctors, it’s time to make a choice. Medicine is based on communication and trust, so your level of comfortability can be a deal-breaker in choosing your primary care doctor. The physician should give you time to ask questions, provide complete answers, and give explanations that you understand. You should feel at ease and comfortable talking about medical queries that you find awkward and embarrassing. If you sense that something is off, he might not be the right fit for you.

When choosing your primary care physician, you want someone you can be comfortable and honest with, someone whose expertise meets your medical needs and someone readily available to provide immediate care.