Establishing a relationship with a primary care physician should take more time and effort than setting up a blind date.
A quick online search to find a brief description of a doctor’s location and hours is not the way to make such an important, personal connection. A doctor-patient relationship shouldn’t be treated casually or dismissed as simply routine.
Patients need a primary care physician who is highly skilled at diagnosis and also a trusted confidant. Without these qualities, how can patients know they are getting the best care or trust what the doctor is saying to them or their families.
A healthy relationship between doctors and patients can reduce the stress typically felt when people need to visit the office. When trust exists between the doctor and patient, the patient is more likely to openly share information about symptoms or ongoing health issues. As a result, people start to see their primary care physician as their first line of defense for both common ailments and potentially serious conditions. In either case, the sooner the diagnosis, the better chance a patient has to recover.
How can patients find the right primary care physician that fits their needs? Consider these five guidelines before making one of the most important decisions about your well-being.
- What are your needs/their interests? While primary care physicians are doctors of the whole body, many have special areas of interest that may range from diabetes management to alternative medicine. Consider how that may mesh with your needs.
- What’s their track record? Find out where they did their training and went to medical school. Ask around for word-of-mouth input. Talk to local friends and family to see who they depend on when someone gets sick or injured.
- Communication is key. Look for a physician who will communicate with you respectfully and in a way you understand. A doctor who uses medical jargon no one can understand won’t be helpful. Does the doctor instill confidence in sharing personal medical details? Allow questions and discussion from the patient? All of these elements form the basis of a solid, trustworthy relationship necessary for quality health care.
- Where is the office located? Do you want a physician that is close to your home or work? This can make a difference when selecting your new primary care physician. It might help to have a doctor closer to the office if appointments need to be made just before or just after the work day.
- Insurance and hospital affiliations are factors. Make sure the physician you’re considering accepts your insurance, and if you prefer a particular hospital, check to see if your potential doctor has privileges there.