Finding a new doctor can be difficult, especially if you recently moved to a new area. It’s a good idea to start by asking friends, neighbours, and coworkers for recommendations, but ultimately it’s up to you to choose the doctor who will best serve your needs.
Your insurance policy may limit your options to a list of doctors who have been approved by the plan or provide financial incentives to utilise doctors who are connected to the plan. Always examine the fine print of your insurance policy to see if visits to the doctors you are considering are covered. How much of the cost of their visits will you pay out-of-pocket if they choose not to take part in your health plan?
Does the health plan require a primary care physician’s reference in order to make an appointment with a specialist? You may wish to choose your doctor first, and then the health plan that covers visits to this doctor, if you have just changed employment and must choose between various health plans provided by your company.
Additionally, you must choose the kind of doctor you want. Most plans demand that you select a primary care physician (a doctor who will manage your overall care and refer you to specialists when needed). Additionally, you will probably want a specialist who is familiar with your specific medical requirements if you have a chronic or incapacitating ailment.
In the US, the majority of doctors are board certified. Primary care physicians, who you would visit for common illnesses like the common cold and the flu as well as routine examinations, may be board certified in either internal medicine or family medicine. A specialist is a doctor who has additional training and has passed a competency exam in a particular field. A specialist is a doctor you would see for specialised treatments like a colonoscopy or for a chronic ailment.
A website managed by administrators of several state medical licence boards allows you to check whether a doctor is in good standing with your state’s licencing body. Information about disciplinary proceedings taken against doctors or criminal complaints made against them in numerous states can be found on the website Administrators In Medicine.
Tips for Choosing a New Primary Care Physician in USA?
Finally, when selecting a doctor, you can have other worries. Your personal wants and priorities should be reflected in these worries.
You can use the following inquiries to determine what matters to you the most:
1. What physicians are included in your network?
Start by learning which local primary care doctors are covered by your plan if you have health insurance and want to choose an in-network provider to save your costs.
You might be able to work with an out-of-network primary care physician through your insurance plan, but it will cost you more.
Ask your potential doctor how much office visits will cost if you don’t have health insurance and will be paying out of pocket. Planning for future visits may be made easier if you are aware of costs before you require care.
Cost is a significant barrier to accessing healthcare, according to studies, whether you’re looking for medical treatment or mental health care.
2. Who do your loved ones and friends endorse?
Asking for referrals from individuals you can trust is one way to find a primary care doctor you like. Your family, friends, and coworkers are great resources for learning about doctors they recommend.
You can ask allied health specialists for recommendations as well. Others in the healthcare industry, such as pharmacists, optometrists, dentists, physical therapists, and others, may be able to provide you with useful information on the doctors you’re considering. They could also be able to suggest other medical professionals you might consider.
3. How simple is it to reach this physician?
How far is the doctor’s office from your house, place of work, or place of study? How simple will it be to locate affordable, secure parking? How long would the trip take if you take public transportation?
In some communities, there are many primary care providers, whereas there are few in others.
Lower-income neighbourhoods typically have more “safety net” services including community health clinics, public clinics, and hospital emergency rooms than primary care physician offices, according to research from a trusted source.
Access to primary care providers may be very difficult in places with underdeveloped public transit infrastructure.
4. In relation to access, where will the operations be performed?
Asking if routine treatments like lab testing, x-rays, and simple operations are carried out in the same location as the doctor’s office is a good idea.
These kinds of treatments are frequently performed in-office by primary care doctors, but if you need to go from the doctor’s office to a lab or imaging facility, you’ll need to find out if those locations are convenient for you.
5. When you need to make an appointment, will the doctor be available?
What time does the medical facility open and close? Are services offered in the evenings, on weekends, or at all times? How long does it usually take to get a doctor’s appointment?
What about telemedicine – does this doctor provide online consultations or assessments? Exists a patient portal where you may request prescription refills, fill out forms, schedule appointments, and contact with the clinic online?
According to studiesTrusted Source, patients value these online services for their convenience, time efficiency, and personal empowerment.
6. Is the potential physician experienced in treating patients just like you?
Primary care professionals include family physicians, paediatricians, internists, OB-GYNs, and geriatricians.
Check to discover if the doctor is board-certified in that field if you want to work with a primary care physician who is skilled in treating a certain population or medical problem.
A further step doctors might take to demonstrate their expertise in an area is board certification. Certification Matters is a searchable directory of physicians maintained by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
To assist you in finding doctors who specialise in the type of treatment you require, Medicare also provides a Physician Compare tool.
If you have insurance, your insurance provider might also offer a ranking or rating system so you can quickly find local doctors that deliver top-notch treatment.
7. Is the personnel polite and knowledgeable?
You’ll frequently interact with the office workers. These unsung heroes of the medical industry will manage many of your encounters with your primary care provider, including scheduling and rescheduling appointments, resolving billing concerns, and requesting refills.
Do the employees treat you politely and patiently when you interact with them? Do they abide by your other limits, like your right to privacy, your choice of name and pronoun, etc.? Do they assist in establishing communication between you and the doctors?
8. Is this a solo or a group practise?
Some medical professionals work alone, while others work in teams. When you arrive, it’s critical to know whether your primary care doctor, another member of the practise, a nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant will be treating you.
If you see a provider other than your normal one, the standard of your care might not be changed, but your general level of satisfaction might go down.
9. What kind of setting does the practise have physically?
Look around the office when you go there. Is the waiting area tidy, well-kept, and generally quiet? Does the medical equipment seem to be up to date and functional? Do the therapy rooms have a separate bathroom?
It’s nearly a universal human experience to have to wait for a while in a doctor’s office, therefore it’s crucial to make sure the atmosphere is comfortable.
According to a recent scientific study, patients’ overall satisfaction was significantly impacted by the practice’s cleanliness and modernity.
10. Can this supplier accommodate your unique needs?
You are a unique person. Your feelings about your body, your health, and your relationships with healthcare professionals have all been influenced by your age, gender, life events, and medical issues.
When deciding what services you require from your primary care physician, take into account if the physician and the office can accommodate any particular requirements you may have, such as a disability.
Due to your experience with domestic violence, sexual assault, physical or sexual abuse, racism, war, or other traumatic experiences, do you worry or distrust medical professionals? Do you require a doctor that is knowledgeable about the unique health issues that being transgender or non-binary presents?
When choosing a primary care physician, keep these questions in mind and be candid with potential doctors about their experience handling these kinds of difficulties.
11. Can you talk to this doctor without difficulty?
The most obvious factor is whether the doctor can communicate with you in your own tongue. Can you communicate if your first language and your doctor’s first language are different?
If English isn’t your first language, think about finding a primary care physician who is able to communicate with you simply and comfortably in that language.
When you first see a primary care physician, keep the following in mind in addition to the language:
- What type of communication does the doctor use?
- Did they take the time to patiently hear your queries and respond?
Were you in a rush?
- Did the doctor ignore your worries or keep interrupting you?
- Was the doctor’s explanation clear enough for you to understand?
- Would you feel at ease discussing delicate or private health matters with them?
According to Trusted Source, there is a direct link between a doctor’s communication style and a patient’s happiness with their medical care.
12. Check pending malpractice actions
You’d be wise to look into any active malpractice claims when assessing a prospective new doctor. A medical error in diagnosis is an example of a negligent act or omission by a clinician that results in patient harm.
Information on malpractice can be found in a variety of places online, including public court records and state medical boards.
13. Affiliations with Hospitals
You could want to choose a new doctor who is connected to a reputable hospital in your neighbourhood. Choosing a doctor who is associated with a reputable hospital close to your home should be based on what hospitals they are affiliated with, a doctor advised.
“Choose a doctor who works at a reputable hospital close to your house.”
Each year, rankings of hospitals are published based on their exceptional performance, patient outcomes, safety, and other aspects. Positive patient outcomes and fewer medical mistakes are two crucial aspects that a patient like you should take into account.
If you need hospitalisation or surgery, it’s crucial to know which hospitals your doctor is linked with, advises a nurse practitioner.
Getting ready for your initial visit
Considering these matters could assist you in creating a list of inquiries and worries to bring to your initial consultation.
You should also ask that your medical records be delivered to your new doctor in advance of your appointment if you are switching providers. If it’s not possible right away, jot down any memories you have of:
- any treatments or operations you’ve undergone
- chronic diseases and serious conditions
- current medications you’re taking
- the medical history of your family
Interviewing potential doctors could feel unpleasant or uncomfortable if you are accustomed to viewing doctors as experts. If you consider yourself an equal partner in the process of enhancing your general health with the primary care physician, it can be simpler.
You could find it challenging to trust medical experts, especially if you’ve experienced discrimination or poor treatment in the past. It’s acceptable if you need to test a few family doctors before you find the best match.
Questions you should Ask Yourself Choosing a New Primary Care Physician in USA?
- Where is the physician’s office? How simple will it be for you to get there? Do you have access to public transit there? Is there enough room to park?
- The doctor uses which hospitals? Do you feel at ease receiving care at one of them if the need arises? Do these hospitals accept the services provided by your insurance?
- Where are standard lab testing and X-rays conducted? Can these be completed in-office, or do you need to visit a third-party lab?
- How long do you have to wait after calling for an appointment? If you have an urgent need, can you be seen that day?
- Is the office staff kind and friendly?
- Do a physician or nurse swiftly answer your phone if you call with a query concerning your treatment?
- When a doctor is absent, who fills in? After hours, who should you call if you need something? Are you at ease having one of the practise partners treat you if the doctor practises in a group?
- Does the doctor usually send patients to other doctors or does he or she like to handle most of your care?
- Does the office handle insurance claims, or do you have to pay for services up front and submit the claims on your own?