A primary care physician is trained to prevent, diagnose, and treat acute and chronic health conditions such as bronchitis, flu, hypertension, and diabetes. PCPs may specialize in general internal medicine, family medicine, and general pediatrics. Primary care doctors offer various preventive care services such as diabetes and cancer screenings.
What Does a PCP Do?
PCPs monitor their patients’ health. During a health examination, a PCP conducts various tests and takes their patient’s vital signs. If the professional detects any anomalies, they may order imaging scans to determine the underlying cause. Once they understand the health condition better, the PCP immediately starts treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment improve treatment outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.
PCPs have their patients’ best interests at heart. They help individuals make healthy lifestyle changes. A healthy lifestyle reduces one’s risk of health conditions and improves their quality of life, allowing them to live a happier and more fulfilling life.
Choosing a PCP
Just because a friend or family member sees a particular PCP, do not automatically assume they’re the right choice for you.
Follow these tips when selecting a PCP you could trust.
Talk to your friends and family members who have a PCP. Ask them questions about their doctor’s communication style and their experience working with their healthcare expert. If you regularly see an optometrist, dentist, or physical therapist, request them to provide recommendations.
Look For an In-network Doctor
If you have health insurance and want to select an in-network doctor to minimize your expenses, begin by identifying the primary care physicians in your area that are in your coverage network.
Your insurance plan may allow you to opt for a primary care doctor out of your coverage network, but your costs may increase.
If you don’t have health insurance and plan to pay out of pocket, discuss the cost of office visits with the doctor you are considering. When you know about the costs beforehand, it is easier to plan for future appointments.
Check Their Reputation
To check the reputation of the PCP you are considering, conduct in-depth online research. Go to their website and check out their social media profiles to see what their patients are saying about them. Check the practice with the BBB and visit reliable third-party review sites to read patient comments, reviews, and testimonials.
Consider the Doctor’s Location
What is the distance between the doctor’s practice and your home, school, or workplace? How simple will it be to locate safe and affordable parking? If you intend to utilize public transportation, what is the expected duration of the trip? You will want to choose a doctor close to your home, work, or school. A short commute can help you save time and money and allow you to spend more time with your doctor.
Find Out If the Doctor Will Be Available When You Need an Appointment
What are the clinic’s operating hours? Is the doctor available on weekends? Do they make house calls? On average, how long does a patient have to wait to see the doctor? Because medical emergencies can occur any time, you will want to choose the best primary care doctor near you who is easily reachable, available on weekends, and offers virtual consultations.
Consider Their Expertise
If you’re looking for a primary care doctor who has received specialized training that allows them to treat people in a specific demographic group or individuals with certain medical conditions, consider a board-certified PCP.
Board-certified physicians have chosen to pursue additional education in a specific specialty and have proven their expertise in that area. Board certification indicates the highest level of accreditation in a particular specialty.
Conduct a Needs Assessment
When choosing a PCP, consider these questions.
- Are you a domestic violence victim or a survivor of sexual assault?
- Are you traumatized and relive your traumatic memories every day?
- Are you grappling with a mental disorder that causes anxiety in medical settings?
- Are you a part of the LGBTQ community, or have you experienced racial discrimination?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, look for a healthcare professional equipped to meet your unique needs.
There are many different types of PCPs. Once you have successfully conducted a needs assessment, you can determine which type is right for you.
Here are some common types of PCPs:
- Internal Medicine Doctors (Or Internists): They only care for adults.
- Pediatricians: They care for children from birth through early adulthood.
- Family Doctors: As the name implies, a family doctor cares for the whole family, including babies, children, young adults, and aging adults.
- OB-GYNs: They specialize in female reproductive health. They have received specialized training that allows them to provide care during pregnancy.
Assess the Doctor’s Communication Skills
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of communication in healthcare. Seamless communication helps improve patient satisfaction and treatment outcomes. To assess a doctor’s communication skills, seek answers to these questions after the initial consultation.
- Do they have effective listening skills? Did they try to ‘really’ listen to your questions and answer them patiently? Or did you feel rushed?
- Did the doctor explain things to you in an easily understandable manner?
- Did they make the effort to make you feel comfortable? Would you be comfortable discussing personal problems with them in the future?
Prepare For Your First Visit
Before meeting your PCP for the first time, write down details regarding any surgeries you have had, medications you are taking, your family’s health history, and any major illness or health condition you are grappling with.