What to Look for When Choosing a Primary Care Provider

Having a primary care provider is associated with living a longer and healthier life and having lower healthcare costs. However, you’ll only achieve these benefits if you choose a provider with whom you can establish an honest and trusting relationship. 

Your primary care physician typically performs your annual wellness exams, screenings and diagnostic tests, and all aspects of preventive medicine for undiagnosed and general health concerns. Depending on how your insurance plan works, your primary care provider may also act as a “gatekeeper” for approving advanced testing and referring you for specialist services. To get the best care, it’s important that you trust your primary care provider’s level of expertise enough to follow through on their advice and recommendations.

The physicians at Macomb Medical Clinic in Sterling Heights, Michigan, provide primary care services to meet all types of non-life-threatening healthcare needs. Whether you’re dealing with a cold, back pain, skin condition, or chronic issue like hypertension, the physicians at Macomb Medical Clinic provide the diagnosis and treatment necessary to treat your problem and help you maintain your health. 

Whether you’re choosing a primary care provider to meet the requirements of your health insurance plan or you’re looking for a new approach to wellness, knowing what to consider can help you identify the professional that’s right for you. 

Get recommendations

Begin your search for a primary care provider with people you trust. Consult with family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors for references to practices they use and recommend.

Ask their opinions about wait times and the availability of sick visits. Find out how well they think their provider listens to their concerns, answers their questions, and communicates directly with them between office visits if necessary.

For a broader range of opinions, check out online reviews on websites such as Healthgrades, RateMDs, and Angie's List. Look for the same provider on several websites to determine whether you can identify unanimous satisfaction or a consistent problem among reviewers.

Check your insurance

Cross-reference the most promising providers with the directory from your health insurance plan. When you find a match in your network, call the office to confirm that they still accept your insurance since physician offices drop and add insurance plans often.

When making your initial call, ask about hospitals for which the providers have admitting privileges. This determines where you will go for diagnostic services and other procedures, so ensure that the practice is associated with a facility that you trust. 

Request an interview

When you’ve narrowed your list of possibilities, request an in-person interview with the provider of your choice. Make sure you understand what you can expect from the interview and if you’ll have to pay an office visit fee for the meeting.  

When calling, pay attention to your phone wait time and the attitude of the receptionist. If you choose this provider, these are the front-line professionals who will handle your requests, so consider the way you're treated. 

Arrive early for your appointment so you can spend some time in the waiting room. Observe how long patients wait to see a physician. Watch how the staff works to maintain cleanliness and separate sick and well patients. 

Ensure compatibility

During the interview, determine how comfortable you feel talking to the physician you’re interviewing. Ask about specific topics you consider non-negotiable. 

Consider if the practice’s philosophical approaches to issues like vaccinations, use of medications, and alternative therapies align with your perspective. Discuss any specific conditions you have and how they’re managed to find out if the provider has a different approach.

If you're interviewing a primary care provider in a group practice, you're also interviewing the entire staff of providers. Confirm that there's a uniform philosophy in the practice. While it's best to meet with the same provider at every office visit, you may have to work with another provider in the group if you need an urgent appointment for an illness or injury. 

Consider logistics

Don’t forget to ask about a primary care provider’s office hours as well as evening and weekend accessibility. Ask if there’s an established time period during which you can typically expect a return call or email during off-hours. 

Find out how the office uses technology to help you stay connected to your primary care provider when you need advice between appointments. Determine how much direct access you have to your provider during these times or if you’ll be dealing with a nurse to convey communication between you and your provider.

Find out if one of the physicians at Macomb Medical Clinic is the right primary care provider for you. Schedule an appointment online or call our office to arrange a consultation.

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