As a healthcare consumer, you need to choose a primary care provider you can trust. Choosing a doctor is an important decision because you will visit this individual for most of your medical needs. Essentially, your healthcare provider should feel like a real partner, one who is easily accessible, communicates effectively, and is capable of handling your medical needs. When you trust your doctor, you will be free to discuss your medical concerns, discuss treatment options, and comply with the physician’s recommendations.
What Does a Primary Care Physician Do?
Primary care covers a broad range of patient health concerns. A healthcare provider, also commonly known as a general practitioner, is the first medical practitioner typically contacted by a patient. They are trained and skilled in comprehensive first contact and continuing care. The doctor collaborates with other healthcare professionals, making them an important link between patients and various specialists. They are also the first point of entry into the world of healthcare, a factor that allows them to develop long-term relationships with patients.
Considering the numerous conditions that fall under primary care, these physicians are specialists in either family medicine, internal medicine, or pediatrics. Their scope of practice and skills includes basic diagnoses and treatment of common conditions. These doctors typically interview patients to assess symptoms, go through past medical history, and conduct physical examinations. The medical professionals may recommend further medical testing, such as X-rays and blood work depending on circumstances.
Primary care services may include the handling of chronic illnesses in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Since the physicians work closely with patients, they also play an important part in health promotion, health maintenance, disease prevention, patient education, and counseling.
These doctors do not limit their care to health concerns affecting specific organ systems, meaning that they handle almost every health issue under the sun. However, for complex evaluations, diagnoses, and treatment, a physician will refer you to a specialist.
One of the main goals of a primary care physician is differential diagnosis. Differential diagnosis helps to distinguish conditions from diseases that present similar symptoms.
How to Choose a Primary Care Physician
Considering the important role a healthcare provider plays in helping you get good healthcare, you should choose your doctor carefully. Here are some of the factors you may want to take into account.
When looking for a provider you can trust, you should not underestimate convenience. Driving can feel overwhelming when you are really sick, making it important to find a practice within your area. You will not want to travel far if you need to schedule several visits in a year or when you really need a doctor.
Check Your Insurance
You should start by looking up the doctors in your health network. Because doctors add and drop plans from time to time, you can contact their office to confirm if they accept your insurance. Choosing an in-network provider will be significant when it comes to planning your treatment and paying your medical bills.
The provider you choose can determine the hospital you go to when the need arises. As such, it is important to go to ask about and consider which hospital the provider uses.
Check the Type of Doctor
Your needs will determine the type of doctor you choose, based on their unique skill sets. For example, if you are seeking a medical expert for your entire family, a family doctor may be your preference. Be sure to look for board certification at this stage.
Check Their Availability
Make sure the office is relatively accessible for both routine and urgent appointments. It’s important that the provider can also provide enough time during your appointment to discuss your medical needs
Consider personality and relationship when choosing a provider. A good doctor will listen to you attentively, answer questions fully, explain the diagnosis and treatment, and schedule follow-up visits. Compatibility will be critical in ensuring you develop trust in them.
Factor in Technology
Doctors who maintain electronic records will have an easy time tracking your medical history, sharing information with specialists, and monitoring patients’ drugs. With technology, patients can access their health information, book doctor appointments, and get lab results conveniently.
There are many other factors you will need to look at when choosing a healthcare provider. These include gender preference, office policies as well as friendly and efficient staff. As you do this, watch out for red flags such as disciplinary actions and malpractice claims.
Are There Questions I Should Know to Ask?
Choosing a physician you can trust requires that you do due diligence. There are several questions you should ask to establish whether your preferred doctor will be a reliable partner.
What is the Physician-Patient Communication Style?
Physician-patient communication will go a long way in ensuring effective treatment. While some physicians will direct patients on the exact steps to take like the medications to take, others will offer several options and recommend one among them. There are also those who explain various treatment options and let the patient make the final decision.
How Does the Physician’s Office Handle Phone Calls?
Make sure you know whether the physician can take calls during office hours, especially if they are attending to other patients. Some physicians will let their nurse or assistant answer the call to ensure a quick response. Others will answer questions via email after hours.
What Happens When Care is Needed on Short Notice or After Office Hours?
There is no telling when a medical emergency will arise. As such, you will need to find out if last-minute appointments are available in case of sudden illness or injury. When you know what to expect from your physician, you will have a better relationship and enjoy higher satisfaction.
Select the Physician Who is Right for You
Having a good primary care physician ensures you receive proper treatment and navigate your way to sound health with ease. If you are looking for a primary healthcare doctor to introduce you to a world of quality healthcare, look no further than us. North Texas Medical Center offers close-to-home healthcare through professionals that are focused on your health and well-being. Contact us today to discuss your healthcare needs and find out how we can assist you.