Taking charge of your healthcare is imperative no matter how old you are. One of the most important decisions you can make is choosing a great primary care physician. The primary care physician is on the front lines of your healthcare and can be the difference between receiving early intervention, delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis. Therefore, there are several questions you should consider before choosing your doctor.
What insurances is your doctor in network with?
• In today’s world, insurance is the driving force for healthcare. Physicians complain they do not receive enough reimbursement for their services and patients complain that nothing is covered.
Choosing the physician that accepts your insurance can be the difference in a $50 copay or $10 copay.
What is your doctor’s availability during an emergency? If he cannot attend to you immediately, who will cover for him?
• It is important to consider the physician’s office hours as well as how well he handles situations after hours. Many physicians use an answering service after hours but, you should ask what his average response time is if you have an emergency. You should also be able to meet the physician who covers for your doctor during emergencies, vacations and afterhours.
What is your doctor’s education? Is he board certified? How long has he been practicing primary care?
• When it comes to physicians, nothing is more important than experience. You want a doctor that has seen it all and has dealt with problems effectively. His education is certainly a close second as is demonstrates that he has been certified by the state to practice family or sugar land primary care medicine.
Does your doctor have any sub specialties?
• You would be surprised as to how many primary care physicians have subspecialties in many different areas like: HIV, Dermatology and gynecology. This information is important because you should know the extent of you physician’s experience.
What languages does your doctor speak?
• All physicians practicing medicine in the United States should be able to communicate effectively in English. Moreover, patients should be able to clearly understand what his physician is saying so that there is no miscommunication on important issues with your health. Some patients feel more comfortable in communicating in their native language therefore they should find a doctor that can speak their native tongue.
What is the average time spent waiting during appointments? What is the average time spent with his patients?
• In my many years in the pharmaceutical industry, I have witnessed primary care physicians seeing 45 to 50 patients per day. Some physicians are simply concerned with seeing as many patients as possible in order to bill for as many services they can. The average time spent with their patients did not exceed 10 minutes. Make sure your doctor can spend time with you discussing your health (physical and mental) and medications.
What hospital is your doctor affiliated with?
• Knowing the hospital your doctor is affiliated with is very important because that hospital is where you will most likely end up if you have an emergency. Investigate if that hospital has sufficient resources to deal with any future health issues that may arise.
Does your doctor communicate effectively with you?
• When it comes to communication with your doctor, being able to express your thoughts freely is important. You must be able to discuss, openly, what you are feeling, physically and mentally, so that he can correctly diagnose your problem.
Do you feel your doctor has a philosophy of treatment that is in-line with yours?
• Make sure you research how your doctor approaches medicine. There are physicians that prefer to treat preventatively; others may choose a more holistic approach while others have a more wait and see approach to medicine. It is important that you know this because it will save you from major headaches down the road when you need second opinions.
In conclusion, choosing a primary care near me is an important undertaking that should not be taken lightly. Communication is a two way street that you must feel comfortable travelling down with your physician. Your Primary care physician is the center of your healthcare network and will refer you to specialists should you have the need.