5 Tips: Choosing Your Next Health Care Provider

National Doctors’ Day is the end of March each year. It’s a good time for us to offer tips for choosing the right doctor for you and your family’s needs.

A primary care provider (PCP) is your first resource for all your professional health care needs. The PCP can help with short-term health issues and tend to your long-term care. Building a relationship with your PCP helps ensure you have the care you need throughout your life.

Your PCP can perform your annual physical and provide your immunizations and the ones your children should have.

Your PCP can refer you to a specialist if a condition requires additional expertise.

Tips for Selecting a Primary Care Provider

Follow these tips to choose a health care professional that’s right for you and your family — one you can trust:

  • Start with your friends and family. Ask who their providers are. What are the providers’ characteristics? Are they happy with their relationships?
  • See if the provider is in your insurance company’s provider network. Seeing a network provider may save you money. Your insurance company will provide a list of network providers.
  • Use resources your local health care systems may offer to give you online information about their doctors.
  • Find out if the provider meets your needs. Is the office open the hours you’re available? Do any members of your family need special language or access accommodations?
  • Choose a provider that has the training and experience that matches your needs. There are different types of primary care providers. Your family may be well served by one or more of these specialties:
    • Family medicine — Generalists with training in pediatrics, gynecology and geriatric medicine.
    • Internal medicine — Specialists in preventive care and diagnosing and treating complex illnesses in adults.
    • Pediatrics — Specialists who focus on caring for newborns, babies, children and teens.
    • Obstetrics and gynecology — Specialists in women’s care along with prenatal, labor and delivery services for pregnant women.
    • Physician assistant — Works under a doctor’s supervision to perform exams, diagnose diseases and prescribe medicine.
    • Nurse practitioner — Nurses with special training. Working as part of a professional team, they perform exams, diagnose diseases and prescribe medicine.

You may want to make an appointment to get acquainted with the provider before you have a medical need. Explain to the office why you want the visit. There may be no cost or a small fee for the office visit. Ask in advance.

Having a PCP will allow you to reduce your costs for medical care compared to visiting an urgent care or emergency room, and the personal relationship you develop will be beneficial for you over the long term.

Meet the Author

Amy Moran Wachowiak, MD is an Internal Medicine Physician at Aurora Advanced Healthcare in Milwaukee, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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