When it comes to choosing a primary care physician, there are a number of factors to consider. Your “PCP” oversees all your medical treatments, makes necessary referrals to specialists when needed, and helps build treatment plans for your specific conditions. Choosing a doctor that fits your individual needs is always the best choice. Here are five things to consider when choosing a primary care physician.
1. Training and qualifications
Some questions to ask:
- Do they have familiarity with your specific medical conditions, especially if they are rare or life-threatening?
- Do they have hospital privileges and board certifications?
- Are they cleared to practice at your preferred facilities?
While you might be able to find some of this information online, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor these questions. This will help you assess their communication style and “bedside manner.”
2. Office locations and hours
Some questions to ask:
- Is their office close to your home or office?
- Do they offer early morning, evening, or weekend appointments and services?
- How quickly can you typically get in to see them?
- Can you email or text them with questions or concerns?
- Do they take your insurance?
It is important that you can easily get in touch with your doctor and that they are in a convenient location to you.
3. Ask for referrals
Many people feel most comfortable visiting a physician who is recommended by someone they know. Ask around and see who your friends and family visit.
You can also ask a trusted healthcare professional for a recommendation such as your pharmacist, or even your dentist. If you’re moving, ask your current doctor if they have a recommendation for your new location.
4. Is the doctor in your network?
If you have health insurance, choosing an in-network doctor can keep your costs down. Start by finding out which primary care physicians are covered by your plan in your area.
Your insurance plan may allow you to work with a primary care doctor who is out of network, but at a higher cost. Knowing about costs before you need care could help you plan for future visits.
5. Are you more comfortable with a male or female provider?
Your health care is a deeply personal matter. If you’d prefer to seek treatment with a male or female physician, don’t hesitate to express your preference. Being comfortable with your provider is key in getting the best possible individualized health care.