How well-versed in you is your primary care doctor? Do they visit you a minimum of once each year? Perhaps during the past several years, as health has taken center stage, you have redoubled your efforts to see this vital caregiver more frequently.
Whatever the case, if you don’t have a primary care physician, you can be forgoing one of the most crucial connections for your health and well-being.
A primary care physician provides more than simply medical treatment. Over time, they understand the specifics of your medical history, how you react to drugs, your health objectives, your lifestyle, your treatment preferences, and whether or not you have a caregiver who helps you manage your health.
The difference it can make to your health is significant. According to studies, persons with a primary care physician are more likely to receive cancer screenings and other preventative treatments and report much better overall health results.
Dr. Philip Painter, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, noted that primary care doctors “assist you to progress through the continuum of life.” “As we age, our demands vary, as does our functional capacity. Having someone familiar with you help you navigate the healthcare system when that occurs is helpful.
The following seven suggestions from Dr. Painter will assist you in selecting the best primary care physician.
1. Consult others
Asking your relatives and friends about their provider is the first step to selecting a quality one. A trusted source’s referral is reliable for finding a knowledgeable, helpful doctor. But keep in mind that every individual is unique. It doesn’t necessarily follow that a provider is appropriate for you just because they were ideal for your neighbor or closest friend.
2. Verify your insurance coverage
Once you’ve narrowed down a few potential possibilities, confirm that they are compatible with your health plan. Ask the provider’s Office if they accept Medicare patients if you have conventional Medicare. To find out if a provider is included in your Medicare Advantage plan’s network, contact your insurance company or visit the website for your plan. It’s crucial to do this before making an appointment since most insurance plans charge more if you see a physician who isn’t in their network.
3. Find Out Which Medical Professionals Are “In-Network.”
You will spend less out of pocket when you see doctors who are “in-network” for insurance reasons, which is a term used by most health plans to refer to hospitals and specific doctors in your region. By choosing an “in-network” physician, you can avoid receiving an unexpected “out-of-network” bill or paying the whole amount out of pocket because your chosen physician does not accept your insurance plan. To discover a local in-network medical professional, go through our directory.
4. Locate a physician with the knowledge to address your medical needs.
You may start whittling down the list of in-network medical professionals now that you have it. A primary care physician can be of several distinct specialties, usually Family Practice, Internal Medicine, or General Practice. Pediatricians are medical professionals that specialize in treating young patients, and they will be your child’s main care provider.
Family Practice: Doctors specializing in family practice are qualified to care for patients of all ages, including infants and the elderly. They are specialists who can handle a wide range of diseases and frequently treat conditions that you may typically visit a specialist for, such as sports injuries or some women’s health issues.
Internal medicine: Internal medicine specialists focus on preventing, diagnosing, and treating illness and chronic disorders and primarily treat adults.
General Practice: General Practice doctors can handle patients of any gender or age similar to family practice doctors. Osteopaths, who practice complementary medicine focusing on the musculoskeletal system and are identified by the letters “D.O.” rather than “M.D.” following their names, may also be found in this category.
5. Perform a quality check.
You probably wouldn’t employ someone to fix something in your house without first checking out how well they do their task. Why would you pick a provider if you didn’t do the same?
Ask your insurance provider, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, whether they know about the quality rankings of specific primary care specialists in your network. You may also check if your physician has taken part in any actions that suggest they offer high-quality treatment using the Physician Compare tool on Medicare.gov.
Finally, visit the Certification Matters website, which is run by the American Board of Medical Specialties, to determine if your provider is board-certified. Primary care doctors who are board-certified have not only fulfilled their states’ license standards but have completed extensive internal medicine tests. You can be certain that the advice providers offer up-to-date since they must retain their accreditation by staying abreast of new industry advances.
6. Make a Call to the doctor’s Office
Dr. Painter suggests individuals phone a prospective provider’s Office get a feel for the setting.
The phone manners of the office workers might reveal a lot, according to Dr. Painter. “Ask if they are accepting new patients, and observe their response. It’s quite different from stating, “He’s swamped, and we always make time for existing patients, but it can take us some time to squeeze in a new patient,” to adding, “The next appointment is in 90 days, have a wonderful day.”
7. Inquire about the logistics and whether they are prepared for virtual meetings.
During the first call, you should inquire about the Office’s operations. How are prescription refills handled at the Office? How are test findings communicated to you? Can you contact your doctor or make an online appointment? Would the office phone remind you if your yearly screening or flu vaccination is past due?
You might also inquire about the availability of same-day appointments and the average length of time that people spend waiting for an appointment.
As virtual visits become popular, find out if the provider offers them and how simple it is to make a virtual appointment.
8. Keep Your Needs Forefront
Every individual has specific health demands, and as people age, those needs vary. Inquire about the specialties and interests of your provider.
If you are not a dedicated player, consulting a doctor specializing in sports medicine might not be the best option. However, suppose you suffer from a chronic illness like diabetes. In that case, you might seek a healthcare professional specializing in treating diabetic patients or who has a sizable diabetes patient population in their clinic. Ask those questions when you make that initial call or conduct your investigation.
You could also benefit from seeing a geriatrician if you have several complicated medical conditions. Geriatricians focus exclusively on treating older adults.
9. Believe your gut
Your primary care physician will be a problem-solver and a crucial ally in the fight for your health. You must have confidence in them and be at ease asking inquiries.
After your initial visit, the American Academy of Family Physicians advises that you reflect on the following:
Are you comfortable working with this provider?
Did the service provider express an interest in learning more about you?
Did they respond to all of your inquiries?
Did they provide information that you could understand?
Trust your intuition and hunt for a different provider who is a better fit if something looks odd. You should feel at ease with anyone you decide on.