What constitutes a good primary care doctor? How do you know if your doctor is the one who fits that profile?
Let’s start with the first question. Generally speaking, I think there are four characteristics by which you can evaluate a physician: advocacy, affability, availability and ability.
A physician who is an advocate is a provider who is connected, who knows how to help you navigate through a storm, and knows how to get you what you need. For example, can they manage the steps - and do they have the resources - to properly arrange a procedure if you need one? If you do have a procedure, can they direct you and advocate for the proper follow up? You need someone who can make sure you get the care and treatment you need. Care coordination is a part of advocacy - someone who serves as an effective quarterback for your care, even when it means being a go-between across multiple specialists who rarely communicate with each other.
An affable doctor is one who talks with you, not at you. It’s a person who still remembers the human side of the art of medicine. Your doctor might be an expert, but if they can’t bring you along in their decision-making process, they probably won’t be a good fit for you.
How much access do you have to your doctor? Are they available 24/7? Do you have access to same day appointments for urgent care at their offices, even if it means they schedule you with one of their partners? Can they process prescriptions refills on weekends? You want to know what you want & need before you go shopping!
Does the physician you’re considering stay on top of the latest literature? How curious is your doctor; do they still have a passion for learning? It’s crucial that physicians keep up with the latest literature and constantly educate themselves to changes in best practices.
No physician is perfect, and you may have to make some tradeoffs. Once you know what you want, the next question is how do you ask for it effectively.
Here is a list of questions, a foundation to build on, as you speak to candidates to become your doctor.
A doctor’s reaction to these questions is a good litmus test. If a doctor is put off by a patient that wants to be active in bettering their health, they may not be the right doctor for you.
- How long have you been practicing?
- How do you think about balancing the line between prevention and treatment of the disease? How much of your time with patients is spent focusing on the former vs. the later?
- How long is the average visit with your patient?
- How much time on average, do you spend with each patient per year (i.e. in person visits, video meetings, reviewing labs and records, phone calls, emails, etc.)?
- Which labs and biomarkers do you consider essential for patient management?
- What areas of medicine interest you the most, either beyond or within primary care?
- Which conferences do you do you try to attend each year?
- How much time do you spend per month keeping up to date on the latest research in medicine overall, exploring medical journals like JAMA or NEJM?
- What are your areas of interest when it comes to overall wellness, like nutrition, exercise physiology, etc.?
- What else would you would like a prospective patient to know about you and your practice?
We are here help, even if you choose to pick a PCP other than All Care, we can assist you in the process.