In a world where telemedicine has become common, and information is digitally available at a click, what’s the need for a personal family doctor? Why go through the inconvenience of researching MDs when there’s a walk-in clinic around the corner?
The answer is that your primary physician is an important member of your whole-health team. They will be an engaged, collaborative participant at every step of your physical wellness. A long-term relationship with a family doctor can be as beneficial as any other measures you take for your longevity.
At United Physicians Group, our primary care physicians keep your best interests at the center of focus. Here are some guidelines to assist you in this important choice.
To maximize insurance benefits, you’ll likely need a doctor who is within your healthcare insurance plan’s network. Start by using the insurer’s directory, and then call the individual doctor’s office to confirm they do accept your plan.
While you’re confirming, ask whether or not the doctor has hospital admitting privileges. The doctor you choose may determine which hospital you are referred to if it becomes necessary.
Consumer Reports also recommends visiting certificationmatters.org to verify board certification. Searching for malpractice claims is another part of their advice. While a lawsuit is something that can happen to any doctor, no matter their level of excellence, finding more than one or two may prompt you to look elsewhere.
A family doctor whose office requires a tiresome commute for you is unlikely to be a good fit. If it’s challenging to attend your annual physical, you may be much less likely to go in for other appointments, even when you need them.
Don’t forget to consider your schedule, too. Appointment hours that don’t align well with your routine may complicate getting care. Are walk-ins available? How far out do you have to schedule an appointment? Similarly, ask whether the office provides a platform for secure email queries, an electronic portal for accessing records, or “after-hours” consultations.
Above all, pay attention to whether you feel your doctor can take the time to give you and the members of your family quality care and attention.
Equally important are your doctor’s services and areas of expertise. Beyond annual wellness or back-to-school visits, can they provide immunizations and in-office lab tests? Are they versed in current research around cancer prevention, diabetes, reproductive, or cardiovascular health? What about mental wellness, nutritional and exercise planning, or addiction cessation?
Remember that there are many factors that contribute to your long-term wellbeing, so it’s wise to screen potential family doctors for multiple areas of knowledge, skill, and concern.
“How well you and your doctor talk to each other is one of the most important steps to getting good health care,” reminds the National Institute on Aging. Be honest with yourself about personality qualities that may be of importance to you, including:
Doctors are professionals who understand that they won’t be right for every patient. They want you to find a good fit, too.
When you’re ready to begin, schedule an appointment so you both can get to know each other and discuss your health history and current needs. Though it may take a few attempts, the investment in this relationship is an investment in your long-term health!
To make an appointment with a primary care physician with United Health Group, or to learn more about our services, contact us online at your convenience.