Your doctor is one of the most important people in your life, so choosing the right primary care physician (PCP) is a big decision. The doctor, and by extension the clinic they work in, are both going to be heavily relied upon when you’re sick. The last place you want to go is somewhere you’re not comfortable with.
Remember, this is the person you rely on to stay as healthy as possible, and you should make your choice based on a few key steps.
Locate the Clinic
The clinic where your doctor works is the easiest way to find and contact them. You can find a list of these online with a quick search and most come with reviews attached, as well as information like address and phone number.
Once you gather a list, you can start narrowing it down. Ask questions like:
- Is the office close to where I live and work?
- Are the doctors recommended by people I know?
- How are the reviews on the website?
- Do they accept Medicare Advantage transportation benefits?
- Are they in-network?
To make matters easier, some health insurance companies have search engines that give you a list of in-network doctors near you. This can be a big time saver.
After you answer all these questions, you should have about 2-3 doctors that you’re ready to research a little deeper.
Another way to utilize your health insurance company is to see if they have a quality check for the PCPs they list. Alternatively, there are other online resources that list accredited doctors with their awards, acknowledgments, and organizations they are a part of.
Once you’re reasonably sure of your decision, it’s time to place a call to the clinic. You don’t want to wait until you’re sick and stressed before you choose a new PCP. This should be done carefully, so you know your choice is accurate.
Make a cold call to the doctor’s office. Doing this is a great tactic that will answer several questions just based on the conversation you have with the staff:
- Is the staff friendly and communicative?
- Is the clinic taking new patients?
- How do they handle prescription refills?
- Will they follow-up on your services?
Just a quick conversation can help narrow down what atmospheres are better for you. Remember when you’re choosing a physician, you’re also choosing their staff, meaning the nurses that assist you, the technicians involved, and the receptionist.
The final step before choosing is to meet with the PCP in person. This is going to give you that final comprehensive view of what it’ll be like to interact with them on a regular basis.
One good way to do this is to ask for a physical. A general health look will get you familiar with their facilities and is sometimes covered by your insurance as well. During the exam, you can talk to the doctor and see what their specialties are, what their manner is, and how you feel about including them in your life.
Paying special attention to how they speak to you is important. Some people prefer a friendlier doctor who will chat for a moment and remember personal information while others prefer someone who is all business. Whatever your needs are, this last visit should settle in your mind which doctor is the right choice.
While you don’t have unlimited funds for this search, you should still take your time. Listen to your instincts before you choose a doctor because they’re usually right. Your PCP is someone you need to trust with personal information, and someone who will be knowledgeable about your medical history. Don’t be afraid to start over if you feel like you’ve made a mistake. As long as you’re in-network, you should find someone you’re happy with.