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Check-up Checklist: How to Pick a Primary Care Physician

Zing Health
Posted by Zing Health on Jul 17, 2023 4:58:39 PM

Having a general practice doctor is a must for a long and healthy life. But while health issues often arise in one’s later years, many communities have few primary care providers to see regularly and deal with problems early before they lead to other medical issues. Having a family physician to go to in an emergency will take advance planning.

In underserved communities, transportation is only one issue for older adults in search of a new doctor. A family doctor may have retired, and a replacement doctor can seem “too young,” talk down to patients or have other communication issues. A clinic may have closed and there is no easy way to get to an appointment. Some general practitioners do not take new patients or do not accept Medicare and want to be paid in advance. The search can be stressful.

But excuses can’t be made here. An internal medicine or family physician is the go-to doctor to take care of preventive medical needs such as immunizations, annual wellness visits and routine screenings, as well as urgent injuries and illnesses that pop up such as a sore throat or pounding headache. The primary care doctor also answers health questions and expresses any concerns about care from specialists. They are vital for a healthy life.

Make the Best Doctor Choice

Here is a checklist to help Medicare plan members find a primary care provider whose office is close and convenient, accepts new patients and is in their insurance network.

  • Do I trust this doctor? For many older adults, the main issue is to feel comfortable with and trust a primary doctor who hopefully will be with them for a long time caring for their needs. But trust is a two-way street.
  • Can I communicate? For those who speak a different language, it’s important to find a doctor who can communicate or have a system in place for translating. It’s difficult to follow doctor’s orders if they’re not understood.
  • Is the provider in the health plan’s network? While there are many doctor search websites, many are sponsored or incomplete. A health plan can confirm which primary care providers are in network, and often the conditions they regularly treat.
  • What do friends say? Friends, family, and neighbors can relay their experiences and recommendations. Going to a doctor who someone has vouched for is a great way to find a compatible choice.
  • What do other providers say? Don’t be afraid to ask other medical professionals for suggestions as well, or even caregivers or clergy. Many are aware of the best and most beloved doctors in the neighborhood and are happy to share their thoughts.
  • Can I get an appointment? Key pieces of information could be important in choosing among doctors. For instance, when do they see patients? Is the location close and easy to get to? How much time does the doctor spend with each patient? Do they do virtual visits? Are they familiar with a condition that will need ongoing attention?

Finding the answers can be as easy as calling the office and asking the healthcare team, looking at reviews online or asking others about the reasons for their recommendations. Asking the right questions will help find a doctor who is the best match to call on when health is on the line.



Topics: preventive care, Blog, person centered care, primary care

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