How to Choose a Primary Care Physician

In a world of Skype, remote employees, and virtual presentations, it’s easy to forget about the value of actual face time. This applies just as much to your health as it does to relationships you might have with friends or coworkers. While you may not think you need a primary care physician, establishing yourself with a doctor now can save you trouble down the road when you need quick access to care.

Having face time with a knowledgeable physician can often be the quickest way to diagnose illness and prevent future medical conditions. Many times if we start experiencing unwelcome symptoms, we search the internet first. Chances are we automatically assume the worst and often give ourselves a wrong diagnosis, which delays healing. Your physician, however, can see the full picture—symptoms combined with health history, plus any potential side effects or interactions with medications—which leads to a quicker route of diagnosis and healing.

If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some factors to consider when choosing a primary care physician:

  1. Location – If a physician is not located near your work or home, you are less likely to make and keep regular visits. It can be more of a hassle to get to the doctor’s office quickly when a true need does arise if it is not close by.
  2. Specialty – While primary care physicians such as your family doctor or OB/GYN are meant to provide basic and comprehensive care, each doctor still has specific specialties and interests. One doctor may have an additional background in dermatology, while another one may also be able to cater to children. If there are parts of your health that concern you more that don’t really require a specialist, consider choosing a doctor by their specialties or interests.
  3. Insurance – Choosing a doctor based on what is covered by your insurance plan may sound obvious, but unfortunately many people end up paying extra money out of pocket due to urgent care visits that could have been avoided had they already had a primary care physician. As soon as you receive your medical insurance ID cards, start your search for a doctor. You can find doctors in-network by calling the number or visiting the website listed on the back of your ID card.

Don’t be afraid to schedule a consultation with a physician before you commit to being a long-time patient. Many doctors are willing to meet and review your health history, which will give you an opportunity to see if the relationship is the right fit.

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