• Dr. Lauren O'Byrne

Choosing a Primary Care Doctor

A primary care physician is more than just a doctor. Wouldn’t it be nice if your doctor knew you as well as some of your closest family and friends? Over time, your doctor learns the nuances of your medical history, your reaction to medications, your personality, your lifestyle, and your treatment preferences.

This type of intimate knowledge can make a big difference to your health. When people’s access to primary care doctors improves, their risk of dying of cancer, heart disease and strokes declines. People with invested primary care physicians are more likely to benefit from coordinated care their doctor provides and to have a positive health care experience.

Here are some tips on how to choose the right primary care doctor for you:

Ask around

Talk to your family and friends about their great doctors. A recommendation from someone you trust is a great way to identify a highly skilled, helpful physician.

Location

Just like in real estate, location matters. It is important to think about the physical location of the office as well as how easy it is to access. Check to make sure parking and/or public transportation are easily accessible.

Talk about prices and insurance

Check with the office staff about your financial responsibility.

Do a quality check

You can frequently find ratings and reviews online. Many medical practices have dedicated websites to provide information about their physicians.

Don’t be afraid to call

Patients may call a potential doctor’s office for a first impression of the practice.

Ask about logistics and consider scheduling an in-person meeting

Some common questions you might ask include: How does the office handle prescription refills? How do they let you know about test results? Can you email your doctor or schedule appointments online? Will the office call to remind you if you’re overdue for an annual screening or a flu shot? How do you reach someone after hours?

Keep your needs in mind

Every person has unique health needs, and those needs change as people age. Think ahead about forming a partnership with your physician.

Look at the bigger picture

It’s important to make sure your doctor’s philosophy of care lines up with your own because building trust and a long-term relationship with your doctor can lead to better health outcomes. Your primary care doctor is going to be a problem-solver and an important advocate for your health.

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