With the rise of urgent care clinics and other walk in medical establishments, the concept of a single family doctor is not one that many Americans interact with in their daily life. For many years the family physician was something you just had, similar to an insurance agent or accountant. The rise of the immediate service culture has changed that, but has not removed the importance of having a family doctor, even if you don’t have a family yet. When you begin the process of choosing your own family doctor, keep these five things in mind.
The first thing to think about is what you are wanting to get out of your family doctor. Are you needing annual physicals, are you worried about a chronic disease or health condition that is prevalent in your family, or are you experiencing a recurring health issue that hasn’t been taken care of well by the rotating chair of doctors at your local clinic? A good example of a local clinic where the doctor takes needed aspect into account, from education, to lifestyle adjustments & medication management can be found here: https://www.tvfammed.com/chronic-disease-management/ .Whatever your particular reason or need is, have that in mind because that will inform the personality of your preferred medical provider and what you may be looking to gain.
The second thing to do is to reach out to your community network. Whether this is by local social media pages or just your own social media page, ask around. See what your friends and family members have to say about the doctors in your area and what ones they prefer or would recommend you avoid. While the medical industry is not very well reviewed, with social media we can usually access the insight of people in our life to help these decisions. Make sure you take that advice with a grain of salt, however. You want to consider the source, everyone has that aunt or cousin that is constantly “sick” so it is a good practice to get at least two or three pieces of info about any doctor before you consider it as gospel.
The third step is to make sure that the providers you are considering fit within your insurance company’s in-network guidelines. If you don’t have any providers in mind check out your insurance company’s provider search or give them a call. Many insurance companies will keep some information about some providers in your area and might have some customer feedback databases.
The fourth item on your health care shopping list is to see if you can speak to a nurse when you call to schedule your appointment. Especially if you have some specific concerns or items that you want to make sure the doctor talks to you about, let them know ahead of time and they can make notes and ensure that those items are taken care of. If the office isn’t willing to facilitate this, then they may not be a clinic for you.
Lastly, plan ahead as much as possible. If you are planning on moving, for example, keep that in mind. Changing family doctors is a large undertaking and usually you will waste a lot of time going over some ancient history with your new one. So, try to pick the one doctor you want for the foreseeable future. The greatest value in the family provider relationship is the fact that they will know you and your history and be able to talk to you about things in context. That is critical, so make sure whatever you choose you are comfortable with that decision for the long haul. Obviously, barring any major error or problem arising, of course.
Having a family physician will give you a rewarding and valuable experience with a professional that can be immensely beneficial for years to come. It is an important decision, but one with near immediate benefits.