You should think of your primary care physician as more than just an acquaintance. They are the person responsible for monitoring your health and helping you maintain a positive quality of life. Blue Cross Blue Shield encourages patients to think of their primary care doctor as their medical “home” because it’s the doctor you visit most for your medical needs.
Sometimes, situations change and we need to make adjustments accordingly. Maybe you’re moving to another town or state and need to find a new doctor in your area. Maybe your current doctor no longer accepts your insurance. Or maybe you’ve simply realized you’re not satisfied with the services or relationship you have with your current primary care physician and need to start anew with someone else. Whatever the case may be, alway consider yourself first. Doctors do what they can to retain patients, but they won’t take it personally if you need to switch doctors- it happens all the time. Just like you wouldn’t stay with a hairstylist that gave you a bad haircut, you shouldn’t have to stay with your doctor if you’ve had a negative experience. Here are five tips for finding a new doctor that best suits your needs.
Speak with your current doctor
Don’t be afraid to speak with your current doctor for their recommendations on a new doctor. If you are moving, see if they can recommend a primary care physician in your new area. If you’re current doctor is leaving the practice, see if they have any information about their replacement. Even if you’re leaving your doctor because they no longer suit your needs, they should be able to advise you on how to find someone who’s a better fit.
Ask family and friends for recommendations
Oftentimes, the best doctor-patient relationships come from referrals. Ask around and see who your family and friends in the area go to for their primary care needs. You can also ask your other healthcare providers, such as your dentist, optometrist, or pharmacist for their recommendations.
Do your research
Word-of-mouth alone might not be enough. You’ll probably have to do a little research of your own as well. Start by finding out which practices in your area accept your health insurance. Also look at reviews and make sure the doctors you’re considering are currently accepting new patients.
Narrow down your options
After you’ve made a list of all the primary care physicians that accept your insurance, you can narrow down your options by focusing on your specific needs and logistics. Consider the different types of primary care physicians which generally include family practice, internal medicine, and general practice. There are also doctors such as osteopaths who practice alternative medicine. It is important to consider logistics in finding a new doctor as well, such as office hours and where they are located in relation to your home or workplace. Many doctors now will communicate with patients who cannot make it into the office remotely, via email or a patient portal, so that is something to keep in mind as well.
Call the new doctor’s office for more information
Once you’ve decided upon a new primary care physician, you’ll want to put your choice to the ultimate test and determine firsthand that this doctor will be able to meet your needs. The office staff should be able to tell you, over the phone, how long it typically takes to get an appointment, how long the doctor has been in practice, where medical tests and lab work is conducted, if the doctor has experience with your specific conditions, if the doctor is part of a group practice, and any other general questions you may have.
When you have your first appointment, be observant and take note of the doctor’s and office staff’s demeanor, how long you have to wait when your arrive at your scheduled time, and how long your appointment lasts. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have questions or concerns, and remember that no patient-doctor relationship is binding- it’s up to you to find a primary care physician that’s right for you.