When it comes to choosing a primary care doctor, you may feel as if you can just go with the one that's closest to you. However, a primary health care physician is regarded as being the most important health related professional because they are the first ones that will detect any problems your body may be experiencing whether it may be a disease, virus or chronic condition. As such, there are several things you need to consider in regard to how to choose a primary care doctor.
1) Type Of Doctor
Contrary to popular belief, not all primary care physicians are the same. Some may specialize in family medicine while some may specialize in internal medicine. The reality of the fact is that not all physicians receive the same training. And, based on the fact that their skill sets, will be based on the type of training they received, before you choose a physician you need to evaluate the type of training and certification said professional required.
For instance, internal medicine providers usually offer their services to adults only and usually have a subspecialty while a family medicine physician will provide care to all ages. As such, if you have a particular problem, seek a physician who specializes in your particular issue.
2) Cultural Awareness
Each culture has its own sets of ideas, taboos and customs. As such, besides finding a doctor that speaks your language, you should use a doctor who is sensitive and knowledgeable about your religious and cultural traditions.
For instance, some orthodox Jews abide by the 'Negiah', which is a concept in Jewish law which forbids physical contact amongst the opposite sex. As such, an unaware doctor may make physical contact with a family member or friend of the patient who practices this religious concept. In a situation like this, that individual would have benefited more by using a doctor who was culturally aware about their beliefs.
3) Evaluate Customer Services
Just because a doctor is competent and can provide you with quality care, that doesn't mean that you'll receive that same level of service from the office staff. As such, you should evaluate their quality of customer care by placing a cold call. By doing this you will get a first impression of the type of environment you'll be going into.
In order for you to effectively communicate with your primary care doctor about any problems you may be experiencing or concerns you may have, you need to be 100% comfortable with said doctor. If not, in some situations such as issues involving your private area, you may feel extremely uncomfortable to discuss your symptoms to your doctor. Therefore, ensure that you choose a primary care doctor that you feel is trustworthy, calm and professional.
During your cold call, you shouldn't just be checking their quality of customer service they provide alone, you should ask about their logistics as well. Some of the things you may want to know are the procedures surrounding how they handle prescription refills, convenience surrounding the ways in which you can schedule appointments, procedures surrounding how they let their patients know their test results or if they contact their patients and remind them of appointments, or any annual screening they may be due for.
Ideally you'll want to go for a doctor who does not rush their patients out of their office. Statistics indicate that primary care doctors spend an average of 13-16 minutes with their patients. Statistics also indicate that doctors usually let their patients talk for 12 seconds before they interrupt them.
Needless to say, you cannot effectively convey your issue to your doctor if they interrupt you within seconds of you talking. The doctor you choose should let you feel confident that your concerns were effectively addressed and that the doctor was patience and sincere in how they handle them. The ideal doctor will establish a warm, patient-physician relationship that makes the patient feel comfortable about disclosing intimate health concerns.
No matter how welcoming and professional a doctor may appear, some people just feel more comfortable with the same sex. In the same breath however, some people may actually feel more comfortable with discussing their issues to the opposite sex.
Regardless of where you may stand, it's worth noting that a study that was conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, demonstrated that patients who were 65 and older, who were treated by female doctors, experienced a lower mortality rate than their counterparts who were treated by male physicians. This is just a small example of why you need to consider the gender of your doctor.
8) Quality Check
When it comes to the idea of hiring someone to conduct repairs in your house, i'm certain that you would do a little research beforehand to see any online reviews they may have. When it comes to choosing a primary care doctor, you should conduct research into the quality of service they provide. Some of the ways you can do this include, but aren't limited to:
- Official Medicare Website - The official Medicare website has a 'Physician Compare' tool that you can use to determine if your doctor has done any activities that demonstrate that they provide quality care.
- Certification Matters Website - You can check to see if your doctor is board-certified by visiting the Certification Matters website. This website is maintained by the American Board of Medical Specialties. In order for a doctor to become board certified they have to pass exams that are related to internal medicine and meet the licensing requirements of the state they operate in.
9) Recommendations From Your Associates
One of the best ways to get information on a primary care doctor is to ask a friend about their experiences with their own doctor. As such, ask friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members if they have a primary care doctor that they like. It's also worth noting that if you are looking for a doctor as a result of the fact that your current doctor is retiring or moving, you should ask your current physician for a recommendation.
10) Create A Checklist Of Questions
One of the most important things you need to do is to create a checklist of questions you should seek the answer for, to determine who will be the best doctor for your particular situation. One of the ways you can do this is to create a list of several doctors that you are interested in and to call their office to get answers to several questions you may have. Some of the questions you should ask include:
- Is the individual apart of a group practice?
- Is there anyone available that may see you in emergency situations if your doctor isn't available?
- Which hospital do they use?
- If you have a preexisting medical condition, does he/she have extensive experience with treating this condition?
- Does the office offer weekend and evening appointments.
- What are the penalties for cancellations if any?
- Are you able to get x-rays and lab work done on-site?