One of the best ways to start when looking for a family doctor is asking for recommendations from coworkers, neighbors, and friends although the most important thing is determining which physician is suited to your needs and situations.
There are many other considerations including provisions in your insurance plan, your work schedules and family preferences.
Here are tips on how to choose a family doctor
- Type of physician: The number one factor to consider when looking for a family doctor is probably the type of physician, which is determined by the nature of your health or your health needs. Therefore, you will be looking for a specialist who understands your particular health needs. Primary care physicians are desired for routine ailments such as cold, the flue, and regular checkups although it is hard to look for a private family doctor without a specific condition that requires special checkups on a regular basis. That takes you to the second category of doctors apart from the primary care physicians — the specialist doctors: these are seen for special procedures such as colonoscopy or for a chronic disease.
These are likely to have completed residency training in specific field after graduating from medical school. They are also likely to have passed a competency exam in the said field. You might also want to search or look for doctors who are board certified those with experience in the particular fields you need help in, or those that have good standing with state licensing agencies. The latter can be found on websites run by administrators of several state medical licensure boards. If you live in United States, you can also use some websites to check backgrounds about disciplinary actions taken or criminal charges filed against physicians in many states.
In addition to qualifications, certification, experience and other factors, you might want to look for a physician who is courteous, with good community reviews and other qualities that make for a good family doctor.
If you are employed and the employer offers insurance cover, then you might want to check the number 2 point in this list although
- Check with your insurance provider: Looking at the options provided by your insurance provider is also a good way to start when looking for a family doctor because many providers will restrict you to a few plan-approved physicians. Other insurance providers will offer financial incentives to use plan-affiliated doctors.
Additionally, checking the terms of your insurance coverage is also a good thing as the insurance plan is likely to stipulate whether it will cover visits to the physicians you are considering. For instance, this has some financial implications if the physician is not covered in the mentioned plan — you will have to pay more money. Therefore, you might need to know how much you will be paying out of pocket before committing.
And while some insurance providers will require a referral from a primary care physician before you can see a specialist, others do not.
Nevertheless, it is not a must for you to start by checking your insurance plans. For instance, if you are changing jobs and must decide among different health plans from the new employer, you might want to first choose the family doctor you will be visiting and then choose the health plan that covers visits to the selected physician.
- Your preferences, choices and wants and those of your family: A family doctor will be handling different personalities. For instance, you will obviously be concerned about where the doctor is located and its accessibility by public or other transportation means, which hospitals the doctor uses, where x-rays and lab studies are conducted and how frequent should be the appointment. Other people are concerned with issues such as who covers the physician when she is away, who you will need to call if you have a problem after-hours, and if you are comfortable being seen by one of the practice partners.
You might want to speak with the doctor about issues such as whether the physician frequently refers patients to specialists or if he/she prefers to manage majority of your care themselves.