How to choose a PCP that’s right for you

Your partner for a healthy life

stethoscope 2Contributed by: Keri Rickenbaugh, Clinical Operations Director

Having a primary care provider (PCP) that you can trust and talk to is very important to your health. After all, this is the person who treats and manages everyday medical problems, from colds to skin rashes, as well as chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. And if the need arises, your PCP will direct you to the right specialist with whom he or she will communicate with regarding your ongoing care. Finally, your PCP not only treats current medical concerns as they come up, but also guides your care to prevent and manage illness and disease.

Do your homework before choosing a PCP

Take the time to find the right PCP. And I’m not just talking about someone who has all of the proper credentials. Don’t get me wrong. Education and training are extremely important, but that’s just one part of the equation. You need to ask yourself what blend of clinical experience/skill and personality traits are important to you to ensure you and your doctor will be a good fit. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, I suggest meeting with a few doctors to determine which one is right for you.

Other things to consider

Don’t forget to consider how the practice operates on a daily basis. I suggest calling the PCP’s receptionist and asking the following questions.

  • What are the office hours? If you work full time, ask if they see patients on Saturdays or evenings.
  • Which hospital(s) does the PCP use? Are you comfortable with the possibility of being treated at one of these institutions should the need arise?
  • Where are routine x-rays and laboratory studies performed? Can these be done in-office, or will you have to go to an outside laboratory?
  • How long must you wait for an appointment after you call? Can you be seen on the same day if you have an urgent need?
  • If you call with a question about your care, does a doctor or nurse return your call promptly?
  • Does the PCP frequently refer patients to specialists or does he/she prefer to manage the majority of your care themselves?
  • Does the office process insurance claims, or must you pay up-front for services and file the claims yourself?

I realize all of this may sound like a lot of work. But believe me; taking control of your care is worth the extra effort.

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