We should all have a good relationship with our primary care physician. The best general practitioners not only possess medical expertise and knowhow; the ideal general practitioner is a doctor you trust with your general medical needs, physicals and wellness visits, as well as preventive care like screenings or vaccinations.
Your doctor is someone you have good chemistry with. They understand your needs, listen to any questions you may have and explain your medical situation in clear, understandable language — all important steps to minding your overall healthcare.
Some doctor-patient relationships may last years, if not decades — proof that once you’ve found a good doctor, stick with them!
Yet if you’ve recently moved to a new area or gotten on a new insurance plan, finding a new primary care physician can feel like a daunting quest. For as many doctors as there are in practice, it can be challenging to find one who will click with you and keep your health priority number one.
Here’s how to find the right primary care doctor:
Ask for referrals and recommendations.
One way to find a doctor is by consulting a trusted family member, friend, loved one or co-worker. Ask around to see if they have a doctor they visit and like enough to recommend. Remember that because everyone is different, a practitioner that’s right for them might not work for you, and vice versa, so be mindful. Likewise, if your doctor is retiring or moving, they may be able to refer you to another primary care physician as they would for a specialist.
Explore doctors within your insurance network.
Your health insurance provider should have a list of doctors in their network (meaning that they take your insurance plan). You can search for a physician a couple of ways:
- Most insurers have a search engine through their website that lists doctors according to their practice, distance from your location, and it should clearly specify if they take your insurance plan (i.e. HMO, PPO, etc.)
- Confirm the specifics you need in a physician:
- Family practice doctors and general practice physicians can treat anyone of any age for most common ailments.
- Internal medicine doctors specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases and chronic conditions.
- You can also call your insurance provider and request a list of doctors.
Find out more details.
As you narrow down the list of providers you’re interested in, check for some specifics about the doctor and their practice. Call their offices if you have questions, such as:
- How far is their office from your home, and what are their office hours?
- Is the doctor accepting new patients? (Many practitioners may be unable to see new patients for weeks or months due to booked schedules.)
- Do they accept your insurance plan?
- Are they board certified?
- Is the doctor an independent practitioner or part of a larger medical group practice?
- Do they have experience treating your symptoms or condition, and if not, is there another doctor who does?
- What are the cancellation policies?
Getting some of these questions answered helps narrow down the right doctor for you.
Give your checkup a checkup.
The true measure of deciding whether a new general practitioner is right for you is in visiting their offices and meeting them face-to-face. Ask yourself some of these questions following your appointment:
- Was the office staff friendly and accommodating when you checked in?
- Did your doctor make you feel comfortable during your visit? Do they have a good bedside manner?
- Did they listen to you and respect what you had to say?
- Did they spend enough time with you, or was the appointment rushed?
- Did you have a chance to ask them any questions?
Take an honest look at your answers. If you answered “no” more than “yes” for the above, it could mean the doctor is not a right fit for you. However, if they checked off all your boxes, it could mean the start of a great doctor-patient relationship for you both.
It’s All About You at Richfield Medical Group
Richfield Medical Group is a patient-centered medical home — that means you are our primary focus. Our staff of family medicine practitioners is devoted to providing comprehensive medical care for the entire family, with the expertise and kindness to help you achieve your healthcare goals. If you’re searching for a new general practitioner, we’re happy to take you as a patient. Please contact us today to get started.