A common misconception when it comes to healthcare is that we only need doctors when we are sick. This should not be the case. Even healthy people need to have regular doctors to help them monitor their condition and ensure that their bodies are in the best of health. These doctors are referred to as primary care physician.
Even if you think you are perfectly healthy, it is still best to have a primary care physician who can monitor your medical history and keep note of important details about you like allergies and health risks. They can also help you analyze lab results, treat a number of ailments and infections, fix up simple fractures, and administer vaccines when needed.
Aside from these, a doctor who is familiar with your medical history is more likely to detect abnormalities in your
health conditions, which could turn out to be early symptoms of a more serious illness. This would give you that window of opportunity to seek timely medical treatment and hopefully be able to address it before your condition worsens.
Because of the critical role that your primary care physician plays in keeping you healthy, it is thus important to make sure you choose the right doctor for the job. To ensure that you appoint the right doctor, follow these tips:
Ask for Recommendations
One way to gauge whether a doctor is a good match for you or not is to talk to their previous and current patients. Tell your friends, relatives, and other people whom you trust that you are looking for a primary care physician, then ask for their recommendations.
These people are in the best position to evaluate the doctor’s performance in relation to the treatment of patients. You can ask them questions about their personal experiences such as how easy it is to get in touch with their doctor, how patient the doctor is in answering their questions, and if the doctor is able to explain their health condition in ways that are easy to understand.
Check with Your Healthcare Provider
From your conversations with friends and family, create a shortlist of doctors that you are most interested in. These should be the doctors who have been given positive feedback by their patients, and whom you feel you would be comfortable working with. There is no exact rule for this as your choice would depend on your personal preferences as well.
After you finish your shortlist, get in touch with your healthcare provider and check for their accreditation. Talk to your provider about your coverage and related policies concerning doctor consultations. Some insurance policies allow consultations with doctors who are not part of the provider’s network, but there may be corresponding charges. You should be clear on these details before finalizing your choice.
Evaluate for Convenience
It is not practical or beneficial for you to have a doctor who is based too far away from your residence. For one, in cases of emergency, it will take him longer to arrive, and many things can happen during this time. Another reason is that it will be more costly for you in terms of time and transportation expenses whenever you have to go to his clinic for your consultations.
Treat your relationship as a long-term engagement and imagine yourself going back and forth for the next 5 years or more. Aside from the distance and location, check also for related features or services that can make your life easier, such as house calls that are being offered by clinics like HouseCallDoctor.Com.Au. Other factors you should consider are the availability of teleconsultations, parking spaces near the clinic, and accessibility to public transportation.
Check Their Specialization
If you have a particular health concern, you may want to choose a primary care physician who is experienced in this area. For example, if you have a heart condition, it is best to go for a heart specialist because he would be able to detect any heart-related issues during your regular consultations.
Specialists have more exposure to their particular area of practice. This means that they have encountered more patients and more variety of cases in their field of specialization. With this depth of experience, they would be able to support you better for your health requirements, not only in case your condition acts up, but also in terms of prevention.
Of course, you must not forget to check their credentials. Make sure to work only with doctors who have gone through the proper medical training and have the certifications to prove it. There are different licensing requirements per state and per specialty, so make sure that the doctor you chose has qualified for both.
Certifications are not just there for display, though admittedly they do evoke a patient’s trust and confidence in their doctors. But more importantly, their certifications will tell you if they are updated with their skills and knowledge about their area of practice. Because medical knowledge and technology evolve over time, it is important to work with a doctor who has kept himself attuned to these developments because he can offer you the best medical advice and treatment possible.
Test It Out
Everything you know up to this point is based on third person feedback and from research. It is now time to confirm for yourself if the information that you have gathered are accurate, and see if reality is able to meet your expectations. At the end of the day, no matter how good the testimonials are, you are your own person and your own experience may not match that of the other patients.
Book an appointment with the doctor you are eyeing and carefully observe the whole process. Check how easy it is to book an appointment, if the doctor arrives on time, and if the staff in the clinic are able to make you feel comfortable. If possible, take a look at the facilities and equipment to make sure they are up-to-date.
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Trust Your Instincts
Remember that your primary care doctor will have access to your private information so you should choose someone you feel comfortable with. While it is not scientific, your personal comfort and preference are also important in your healthcare plan.
After all, even if you choose a top specialist in the field, if you can’t get yourself to feel confident enough to share what you are actually feeling, your doctor would not be able to help you. Honesty and trust are critical factors in a patient’s treatment program, so you should find a doctor who makes you feel secure enough to let go and open up.