There are lots of reasons you could be searching for a primary care physician. Perhaps your current doctor is retiring, you’re moving or you have a new insurance plan. Maybe you’ve never had a primary care doctor before.
Whatever your situation, looking for a new primary care physician can be a challenge. It’s hard to know where to start in finding the person who will help you with one of the most important aspects of your life—your health. Here’s five tips to help you get started:
1. Check with your insurance provider
Many insurance providers have options on their website where you can search doctors in your area that accept your insurance plan. Most sites will sort by geographical region, listing primary care physicians that are closest to you first. Typically, the filter works by zip code, so you can find doctors who are close to your work or home. In addition, some insurance sites will offer reviews of doctors or primary care practices. This allows you to see what other people who have your insurance plan think about their service, which can help you make a more informed decision before you schedule an appointment.
2. Visit your local hospitals website
Hospitals are often associated with health networks that offer affiliations with local physicians and referral services to members of the community. The hospital’s physician directory or Find A Doc feature can help connect you to doctors within the network that meet any criteria you’re looking for. Doctors who are associated with hospitals are typically closely connected to specialists who are also within the network should you need further care or attention.
3. Ask for word of mouth referrals
Many people find primary care physicians by talking to their family, friends or other people they trust. Try asking the people in your life for a recommendation. They’ll be able to give you details on a specific doctor or practice they have had positive experiences with and may even be able to give you tips on which offices to steer clear of. If you’re moving, try asking your current doctor or your employer for good physicians in the area, they can most likely help you find a practice in your new neighborhood.
4. Do your research
The internet provides a wealth of information for people to learn about a primary care practice or even a specific doctor. Visit an office’s page and you may find bios of the doctors that practice there. You might also find videos of doctors talking about their services and why they’re passionate about their jobs. You can also check out reviews on sites such as Vitals and RateMDs With Google and the right resources, it can be easy to get information on a doctor without ever meeting him or her.
5. Schedule an appointment
The only way to truly know if you’re choosing the right physician is to give him or her a chance. Just because you have one visit with a doctor, doesn’t mean that you’re locked in. You can always switch if you find that you’re unhappy with how they handle your health. The most important thing is to be sure you’re comfortable and getting the care you need—it’s okay to give a doctor a test run before fully committing.
Get the right care
Don’t wait until you’re already sick to visit a primary care physician. Your doctor will know what is considered normal for your body and your health, so he or she may detect sicknesses and illnesses that you have no symptoms of. Be sure to find the right doctor for you and visit him or her regularly.
If you’re looking for a primary care physician, Columbia Memorial Health has many who are passionate about personalized care and keeping their patients healthy. Watch videos of Columbia Memorial physicians talking about their practice or use our find a doc tool to get started finding the right primary care physician for you.