Everyone knows they need a primary care provider, sometimes your parents choose them for you when you get your immunizations or for a sports or work physical.  There are times when you first need to choose one.  Times such as when you relocate or when your current primary care physician retires and you do not have an alternative.  Then the question arises, “How do you choose a primary care provider? What criteria should you use?”  That is precisely what this article will discuss in great detail.  Please read.

Initial Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing A PCP

The first question that ought to come to mind is, what role will this provider serve?  Do you want him or her for your children?  Do you want them for the adults in the family?  Do you want them to be both? Another key initial question revolves around distance.  Do you want a doctor that is closer to your home, or does distance not matter as long as the physician meets your needs.

Ask for a Doctor Referral From Friends, Family, or Neighbors

This step should be #1 on your list. The people that you are closest to will be the ones that will give you the most honest answers. Ask around and see if they have any recommendations. Or, if you have just moved into a new area and are looking for a primary care provider, ask you new neighbors.  They will have a great sense of the best doctors in the region.  They can also give you an idea of where their office is located.

Read Provider Reviews

Take it from the people that have been there before you. When doing your research on a new PCP you need to make sure to read their online reviews. It only takes 1-6 online reviews for 68% of potential patients to form an opinion about a provider’s practice.

Does This Doctor Qualify as a Primary Care Physician?

This might sound like a stupid question, but it IS legitimate.  Did you know that not all MDs or doctors qualify?  There are only four types of doctors that qualify as a primary care physician.

The four doctors that qualify as a primary care provider are:

  • General practitioner doctors
  • Family practice doctors
  • Pediatricians, aka children’s doctors
  • Doctors of internal medicine

Does This PCP Accept Your Insurance Plan?

Not all doctors accept all insurance plans.  It is a pivotal point in your inquiry and must be asked prior to scheduling a meet and greet.  The receptionist should be able to answer this question when you make your initial phone call to their facility.  It is also crucial to know if they still require a copay and roughly how much of a fee that amounts to.  You also want to know if that copay is expected at the time of the appointment or if you will receive a bill after your office visit.

Perform a Quality Check on the Provider

In other words, get references and follow up with them.  As with any other type of service provider, you want to be sure of their qualifications.  When you are interviewing a potential physician, ask to see credentials.  Then ask for references and make sure you speak with them, especially if it is a children’s doctor.  The importance of these steps cannot be stressed enough.

Is this Provider Available?

Availability is one of the biggest ranking factors when choosing a primary care provider. He or she could be the best medical doctor in the world.  However, if it is impossible to get an appointment to see them, then it is not very beneficial to you or your family?  So you want to know how busy the office gets.  Also, how soon can you have your first appointment?  How easy is it to get an appointment with him or her in an emergency?  Is the scheduling process easy or difficult?  All of these are critical questions to get answered when trying to find your new PCP.

What is their office culture like?

This might sound totally off the walls, but it is important.  How is the receptionist when you walk into the doctor’s office? Are they friendly and efficient?  When you call their office, do they put your call right through to the doctor or nurse?  Or, are they more of a difficult gatekeeper?  This is critical to know because, in the case of an urgent medical problem, you want to be able to speak to the provider ASAP.  Are the nurses or physicians’ assistants friendly? It’s questions like these that make it easier to find the right provider’s office that is right for you.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a primary care provider is a big step in a person’s life. You want to make sure that the doctor’s office ticks all of the right boxes because this is going to be a long and important relationship for you and your family. If you are looking for a primary care provider in the Orlando area, Horizon Primary Care is the place happily serving new patients!