Finding a good doctor can be a scary and difficult process. Your relationship with your doctor is an important factor in your healthcare, so you want to make sure it’s a good relationship with someone you trust. Finding a physician who can take the time to listen to all your concerns and be an advocate when you need them is a great way to be prepared for whatever comes your way in terms of you and your family’s health. Below are some steps you can take that will help you find a physician who is the best fit for you.
- Determine what kind of doctor you need. The first step to finding a good physician is to figure out which type is best suited to your potential diagnosis. Are you interested in getting a physical to see where your baseline health is? Do you need to establish someone for your kids who can do well child checks and be a good resource when they are sick? Or do you have a concern or a diagnosis that you need help with managing? Start with a primary care physician first. A primary care physician can manage 80-90% of medical diagnoses and refer you to Specialists when needed. Often times, they can help for a much lower cost than if you were to bounce around from Specialist to Specialist or use the ER. If you need to see a Specialist(s) then they can be the medical home that keeps all of your medical conditions in one place and help you navigate the system. For instance, if you have back pain and are not sure if you need to see an Orthopedist, Neurologist, a Rheumatologist, or even the Emergency Room because you want the quickest pain relief, your best choice would be a primary care doctor. We can screen you for causes of back pain that need referred and prescribe stretches/exercise and prescriptions to help almost immediately. You would save a lot of time and money. A direct primary care doctor can also see you for back pain with no added costs such as a co-pay, visit fee, or surprise medical bills months later. Your visit would be included in your membership and since you know your doctor, you can be seen much quicker than in a traditional medical practice model.
- Narrow online choices by your preferences. You can find a list of physicians by doing an online search. First, you may want to look at the location and determine what will be close by and convenient. You will also want to make sure the doctor is taking new patient appointments. Often, an established physician that you have references for will have a full panel and therefore be closed to new patients. Their office will sometimes make you an appointment, but with a Nurse Practitioner or a mid-level instead of a physician. If the physician is affiliated with a hospital, then you will likely get a call center outside of the doctor’s office to make your appointment and might not get the personalized answers to some of your questions before your visit. You also will want to consider educational background and years in practice. With a Direct Primary Care Physician such as Priority Care, you would have access to a Board Certified Family Medicine physician with 16 years experience. The panel size is much smaller than a traditional medical office, so you would be guaranteed a personalized medical care approach. You would get your doctor’s personal phone number so you could call or text for urgent matters. For example, if you have a simple urinary tract infection and want to call to see if you should make an appointment, you will get the office and physician directly. You might be able to save yourself the time of taking off work or away from your day’s plans by being treated over the phone if appropriate. If you need to be seen, then there would not be a visit fee because all visits are included in membership. And you would be guaranteed a same day or next day appointment which is very rare.
- Do an online “background check” of your top choices. Do they have an online social media presence that gives you a sense of their personality as well as the culture of the office? A simple google search or Facebook search can let you know if the choices of physicians are with a big system and therefore you might wind up being just a number and rushed through appointments. Your physician may truly care for you, but might not be able to deliver the kind of care they would want due to restrictions placed by the hospital, insurance company, or another third party payer. Direct Primary Care takes away the burden of inefficient bureaucracy and puts the doctor-patient relationship first. At Priority Care, we can work as a team to be sure to address the concerns that are important to you as an individual. For example, in order to get the best reimbursements from insurance companies or comply with reports from a big system, a doctor with a traditional medical office will have a certain list of check-boxes they need to attend to during all of your visits. At Priority Care, you wouldn’t just be a number on a report or billing statement, you would have your doctor’s number and still get the evidence based personalized care and advise you need.
- Make an appointment. You will want to consider what qualities will ensure that you have a good experience. Can you make an appointment with your doctor in a timely manner? Can you be guaranteed access and continuity to see your personal physician? Is the facility clean, inviting, and easy to get to? How will the office communicate with you? At Priority Care, your first appointment would be given an hour so that you can get to know your doctor and make sure you are comfortable with your care and have time to address all your concerns and answer all your questions. You will have same day or next day access with your doctor, not just a provider in the practice or system. You will have email and phone access with your doctor instead of staff that may not know you to answer questions, provide lab or test results, or handle any navigation of the complicated healthcare system.
- Come prepared. It is always a good idea to bring a list of your medications or your medicine bottles to your visits. This way you can ensure that your medical record is updated with reliable and current information. This will also help avoid medication reactions and likelihood of running out of your medications. Also bring a list of your medical diagnoses, past surgeries or procedure, and questions you want to address. This will help with making sure you are being screened for the appropriate medical conditions and help you to remember what your questions were. Another good list to bring is of your family medical history. Often, medical decisions are made on your risk factors. Risk factors often include if you have a family member with a certain condition. For example, if you have a family member with a history of breast or colon cancer, then you might need more frequent mammograms and colonoscopies at an earlier age than other patients. Bring contact information of your other physicians/providers. A primary care office will want to keep up with all of your health care and even though most offices have an EMR (electronic medical record), because of profit and competition, they do not communicate effectively across the medical system. If you are gong to a medical doctor’s office that isn’t a Direct Primary Care office, you will also want to bring your insurance information and projected co-pays, co-insurance amounts. However, if you are going to a DPC practice, then you will not need these at any visit as the simple membership model reduces all the transactional functions.
- Reward good doctors with good online recommendations so others can benefit. We are so harassed with online reviews from every product or service that we buy, that oftentimes, when a service is what is expected or even better than expected, we don’t bother with the online review. People expect a good professional experience with a physician, so there can sometimes be a negative review that you should take with a grain of salt. However, most patients will consult with an online review site to make a decision of which doctor to go to. A good review will help your community and make your doctor happy. A happy doctor makes for happy patients!