What to Consider When Selecting a Primary Care Doctor

primary care doctor

None of us like going to the doctor, but such visits are necessary over the years. We need annual physicals, prescriptions, diagnoses, advice, treatment plans, and more. If we have children, our visits to such health practitioners tend to be even more of a common occurrence.

4 Tips to choose a primary care doctor

No matter your age or health status, it’s vital to select a primary care doctor you feel you can trust, feel comfortable with, and can afford, among other things. That way, you can visit the same person time after time and have someone who understands your history and ongoing concerns. There are multiple factors to consider before choosing the doctor you see year after year.

Research Key Details

Research is the first step in finding a good physician for your needs. You only want to consult with a doctor who’s suitably qualified, so make sure those you look into have the necessary licenses and that they keep these up to date. The same goes for qualifications. A general medical degree is the bare minimum doctors should have, but many are qualified in additional areas, too.

It pays to choose a primary care health practitioner with many years of experience, where possible. Plus, think about if you need to pick someone who specializes in a particular area or not. Some doctors narrow down their scope of specialization to a few fields they’re passionate about and become experts in these areas as a result.

For example, you may want to select a physician with extensive experience in and knowledge of chronic pain or diabetes management, thyroid or hormonal disorders, or prescribing depression medication and other drugs. If you have young children, you might want to pick a family doctor with an extensive understanding of kid-related health concerns. Always factor in your unique needs to find the best fit for you and your family.

Consider Logistics

Numerous logistics factors can come into play when picking a doctor. For example, it helps to find a physician whose practice isn’t too far from where you live or work. You might also want to check if the health practitioner offers remote appointments such as those completed via video conference or phone calls.

Also, learn if the doctors on your shortlist have after-hours or weekend visits available if you can usually only get to an appointment outside of standard business hours. If a doctor only works a couple of days per week, this is good to know upfront. Ask how long it generally takes to get in to see a physician because if they’re typically booked out for weeks in advance, that may make them an untenable choice for you.

Plus, if you’re hearing or vision impaired, find out if the practice and the doctor will be set up appropriately to make visits work well. If you need a doctor who speaks a particular language or has a translator available, ask about this, too.

Read Reviews and Testimonials and Ask for Referrals

Before you start seeing a health care worker, learn how other patients have found their experiences with each of the doctors on your shortlist. These days, you’ll find plenty of ratings, reviews, and testimonials listed online for physicians, whether on practice websites, social media pages, forums, Google reviews, or other spots.

While it’s unusual for any practitioner to get 100 percent excellent feedback, if you see the same types of negative comments cropping up repeatedly, this warns you about potential red flags to consider. For instance, you might read about doctors misdiagnosing patients, running incredibly late for appointments, having dirty and untidy waiting rooms, being rude, not listening, etc.

If you have friends or family members living in a similar area to you, it’s worth asking them if they like, trust, feel comfortable with, and have otherwise found their current doctor to be good. If so, this will give you ideas of people worth considering.

Investigate Costs

Another tip when making your decision about a primary care physician is how much they charge for appointments. Learn the general costs and if extra fees for extended sessions or those conducted outside of regular business hours arise. It’s also wise to check your health insurance to see if visits to the doctors you’re considering will be included in your cover and, if so, whether all fees will get paid for you.

Most people don’t put much time and effort into picking a primary care doctor. However, analyzing multiple factors will not only make it more likely that you feel at ease seeing a physician but that you also won’t have issues cropping up over the long term that you didn’t expect.