Health Care

How To Find a Primary Care Doctor

A Primary Care Physician Speaks a Girl and Her Mother

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Primary care is one of the most important forms of medical care. Lack of access to regular primary care is a problem for many that’s resulting in more health complications across the board, from chronic illnesses to genetic diseases.

It’s essential to have a primary care doctor or provider who knows your medical history and unique needs. Finding a provider that you connect with may seem difficult initially, but we’re here to guide you through the process and offer suggestions so you can address your ongoing medical needs.

Assess Your Personal Health Needs

You know yourself and your health needs best; only you can decide what type of care works best for you. Establishing a relationship with a primary care provider will allow you to express your health concerns and address your needs as they occur, giving you consistency and stability in your care.

What Is a Primary Care Doctor?

Primary care is all about continuity, meaning you can establish a relationship with a specific physician or provider and continue seeing them each year. Once they know your family history, personal risk factors and other needs, they can successfully coordinate different aspects of your medical care.

Your primary care doctor will often advocate for your health care. For example, their knowledge and insight into your medical history can be valuable if you have a medical emergency or extended hospital stay. They can also help you effectively manage chronic diseases and illnesses and work with specialists to ensure you’re receiving proper care.

Research Local Providers

If you aren’t sure how to find a primary care doctor, one way you can start is by asking people you trust. Talk to your friends and family members to learn who they’re going to for primary care. The internet is a wonderful resource if you don’t have anyone to ask. Word of mouth and others’ first-hand experiences can be the most effective way to find a great primary care physician in your area.

You can find online directories that list contact information for local primary care doctors. Review these lists and see which offices look affordable, accessible and friendly. Always check to make sure your desired office takes your insurance, too.

You should also consider the location and hours of each primary care office. Keep the following questions in mind while you’re looking for a new provider:

  • Are there accommodations that make the office accessible for you?
  • Is the location convenient for you?
  • Will you be able to make your appointments on time?

Verify Insurance Coverage

Regarding your health insurance, there are two categories of providers: “in-network” and “out-of-network.” In-network offices will accept your insurance and offer major cost savings. However, visiting an out-of-network provider can leave you with a larger bill or possibly no insurance coverage.

You should always contact your insurance provider directly to verify your coverage. They can look up specific offices and determine whether your care would be covered at those locations.

Out-of-Pocket Payments

If you can afford to pay out of pocket for each visit and treatment, insurance coverage won’t matter quite as much. However, finding an in-network office is still wise, so you’ll only have to pay your copayment.

Copayments

Copayments, also called co-pays, are percentages or fixed amounts due at each doctor’s visit. Your insurance will cover the rest of the visit if you’ve met your deductible for the year. Co-pays are significantly cheaper than paying out of pocket for medical care.

Consider Technology and Communication Options

If you're unsure how to find a primary care doctor who will meet your needs, assess their communication and visit options. Some patients prefer telehealth (virtual) visits, while others prefer in-person care. Some offices offer both visit types.

Consider your preferences when it comes to technology: are you tech-savvy and short on time? If so, telehealth appointments may be best to meet your needs. Conversely, in-person visits are the way to go if you prefer a face-to-face interaction with your doctor.

You should also consider how a provider communicates with patients. Some common methods of communication include email, online portals, printed mail and phone calls. Find a provider who communicates in a way that works for you.

Evaluate the Office Environment

When you tour or schedule a visit at a new primary care office, pay close attention to your surroundings. Evaluate the office's cleanliness, atmosphere and the friendliness of the office team. It’s important that you feel safe and welcomed in your primary care office.

Certain amenities and extra services are available in some primary care offices, so explore what each office has to offer. From free refreshments to extra outpatient care services, you may be surprised by what benefits are available from your primary care provider.

Ask Questions During the Initial Appointment

Make sure you ask plenty of questions to get to know your primary care provider at your first appointment. Consider your personal health needs as you evaluate which provider is right for you.

Some important things to ask about include the provider’s:

  • After-hours and emergency care availability
  • Approach to preventive care
  • Chronic condition management
  • Extra services and amenities
  • Testing and lab work services

These are all important factors in effective primary care and health management. If you have a chronic illness or a concerning family history, these questions are even more essential.

Finalize the Decision

The last step in your journey to find a primary care doctor is to evaluate what you’ve seen and heard from each provider. Once you’re ready to establish a relationship with a primary care doctor, let them know. Then, you can schedule appointments as needed to manage your health conditions and get regular checkups. Long-term relationships are key to successful and effective primary care.

How To Find the Best Primary Care Doctor for Your Well-Being

You deserve high-quality long-term care. At AdventHealth Primary Care+, we’re open every day of the week and offer convenient weekend and evening hours. You can even choose between in-person and virtual visits at your convenience — we’re always here for you when and where you need us. Schedule an appointment with us today.

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