Finding the Right Fit When Searching for a Primary Care Doctor

Finding the Right Fit When Searching for a Primary Care Doctor
Dana Corriel, MD

Dana Corriel, MD

A board certified internal medicine physician who, mid-career, swapped stethoscope for computer screen, and has become a digital brand consultant. for individual health experts and businesses, alike.

(THAT puzzle piece)

 

When I think of the process

of finding the right fit, where it comes to a primary care physician, my best advice is to approach it like you would dating.

Not actual dating, of course, just the approach to dating.

Now, before you giggle, or raise an accusatory finger, bear with me and consider the point I’m trying to make.

Like the dating process, not every suitor, or physician, you meet will work out. And some of these will require several ‘dates’, or office visits, in order to determine whether they could be ‘the one’, where it comes to fit.

You wouldn’t commit to someone after just a single date, would you?

Ok, so some of you would, sure. Especially those of you who believe in ‘love at first sight’. And that does exist out there, I’ve seen it happen first hand.

But there’s also nothing wrong with a little ‘shopping around’, giving other suitors, or physicians in our case, a chance (though always consider cost! ie, not every insurance will cover this process). I personally think this method works well because it gives you better perspective and allows you to see what’s out there, first hand.

 

It’s the equivalent of a comparison shop. Except that you’re weighing more than just cost.

 

Check out this article, called 3 Most Important Qualities to Consider When Picking a Primary Care Doctor, to read what I consider to be some of the most important traits to look for, when shopping around for a good primary care doctor.

 

 

A woman's hand, holding shopping bags. On one is an image of a group of physicians, walking away.

 

 

I also sometimes compare this process to building a puzzle.

We build them sometimes, as a family (we’re a game-loving family, you see!).

 

 

my son challenges a man to a chess match, at the barber shop. photo has a caricature feel to it.
we all hop onto a board game, any chance that we get!

 

 

It’s a relaxing pastime for my boys. They’ll open up a fresh, new box – or, even better in my opinion, a recycled one! – then scatter the pieces, working on them over the next few days. They patiently scan, try on different fits, and slowly build the puzzle up.

Some puzzles they take on are extra hard (those 1000-piece ones are killer!) – not only because there have many pieces to them, but because each piece looks very much like the next. They all look like they ‘sorta fit’, making the process extra hard.

But when they land on the right one, and get it wedged right into its place, I see the positive reinforcement light up their face. They’ve momentarily won.

I think of that very same feeling when you find the right primary care doc. It’s a eureka moment and you’ll just know that it’s a fit.

 

You want to make sure you pick the right person, where it comes to a primary care physician especially, because the relationship should ideally last.

 

 

Something additional to consider:

Be weary of feedback/reviews.

While they do sometimes hold merit, understand that, like with dating, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

That means that, just because someone else had a bad experience, doesn’t mean that you will, too. Reviews are not vetted, and often, they do not allow the physician to give their side of things. For more detail on why you should approach physician reviews with caution, check out my contributing quotes to Medical Economics in How Patient Satisfaction Scores Are Changing Medicine.

Approach reviews with caution, and use common sense.

 

 

Another aspect to keep in mind these days

is that there are various types of primary care practices, and that doctors are increasingly looking to concierge and DPC (Direct Primary Care) options, because they may provide more flexibility in the way they run.

While these options could appear to be more costly at face-value, I’d hear the concepts out, because they do end up as the ‘right fit’ for many.

Although many of these do not take insurance, it turns out that they could still end up saving some patients money, in the long run, and allow for extremely favorable outcomes given direct accessibility to physician and smaller patient load (meaning, the physician agrees to treat a much smaller group of patients in total, freeing up more of her time).

Again, this is something that’s becoming increasingly more popular, but each one of you should look into the particulars of their medical plan and conditions, and weigh appropriately whether it could be a fit.

 

Another quick thing to consider

is whether a physician practices in academic vs private setting.

To summarize simply, in an academic practice, you typically get paired up with a resident (aka physician in training), who has a more experienced doctor overseeing them. While this could translate into a less experienced doctor, they could be more up to date with the latest in academics. Also, quite often, you get an additional pair of eyes checking over your care. Either way, by choosing this, you’re contributing to the training of young physicians and doing the field a service (so thanks for that!).

Private practice typically means just one physician, who is dedicated to you. They are also, typically, up to date, because of a rigorous certification process that physicians must regularly complete (to rightfully earn the right to claim they are ‘board-certified’).

 

You want to make sure you pick the right person, where it comes to primary care #physician especially, because the relationship should ideally last. Click To Tweet

 

 

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mysetrious woman holds up a magnifying glass; in it, a physicians stands. Green hue to the photo.

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