Choosing a Primary Care Provider

Primary care providers (PCPs) are healthcare professionals that attend to common medical problems. Most often a doctor, PCPs can be nurses or physician assistants. Compared to other healthcare practitioners, they are often monitoring and treating you for a long time. Their general practice allows them to cater to the various non-emergency needs of their patients.

Deciding on the PCP to trust is an overwhelming decision for many people. Preventive care is the best care, after all. Here are three things to consider when choosing your primary care provider:

1. Figure out your needs and non-negotiables

As someone who sees to your common medical problems, it is important to consider their discipline and experience. If you’re looking for a PCP for your child or elder, the appropriate doctor to approach would be pediatricians or geriatricians. Family practitioners are also great choices when looking for a PCP for your entire family. 

There are also primary care providers to attend to people with existing health concerns or complications. Others would approach doctors specializing in a certain medical field that would correctly assess the urgency of their problems. From there, it would be easier to decide on the next steps to address any detected health issues.

Other factors to take into account are the age, location, gender, and treatment approach of your primary care provider. This is highly dependent on the patient’s preferences to ensure a comfortable experience. 


2. Consult with your health insurance provider, friends, and family

Once you have decided on the desired characteristics of your provider, you need to consider the external parties involved with your healthcare. It is important to hear out other opinions to gain a better perspective for a long-term decision.

People forget to check their insurance plans as selected plans limit the providers you can choose from with financial incentives or agreements. More often than not, the providers recommended by your health insurance are convenient and cost-efficient choices.

There are plenty of directories and databases made available online by medical professionals. It would help you compile your choices and get leads on the possible practitioners to contact and inquire about. 

Word-of-mouth still reigns as an important opinion to consider when it comes to medicine. Family input is valuable given that their experiences are more likely to be similar to yours as compared to your friends. Asking about their insights and personal information on the doctors would give you more context before the first appointment.


3. Visit your prospects and finalize your decision

The best approach to get to know a health professional’s practice is to experience it yourself. One common way is to call the doctor’s office. This can reveal the treatment the staff has for potential new patients. 

Hold an interview with the primary care provider to verify if they are board-certified. Board-certified would mean they have completed further training after medical school demonstrating their skill in their specialization. You can back this up with online research or opt to visit the office in person.

Appointments are great methods to get to know the doctor. A call would not be able to catch the nuances and details of a person’s personality and authenticity. Asking difficult questions would be easier to do as they are talking right in front of you.

You should pay attention to body language and mannerisms to get a sense of how they handle their patients. Questions can range from technical work, educational background to their passion for working in medicine. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t feel any lingering doubts or hesitancies. 

Deciding on a primary care provider, one should have a deep understanding of self. It lessens the time you take in choosing among your prospects.