Picking the Right Primary Care Physician

Staying healthy often requires expert help — which is why you need to pick the right primary care physician (PCP).

A primary care physician is a doctor who sees adult patients for issues like headaches, back pain, respiratory infections, and more.

They can also help manage chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, anxiety, and depression. They are well-versed at managing multiple treatments and understanding medications and the interactions between them. Plus, they have a local network of doctors and can refer you to specialists as needed. Ultimately, when it comes to patient care, they treat the entire person.

A study published in 2019 looked at over 49,000 adults in the United States with a PCP and about 21,000 adults in the United States without a PCP. Unsurprisingly, adults with primary care were more likely to make preventative visits to the doctor and fill their prescriptions. Additionally, they were more likely to receive extended care like diagnostic testings, cancer screenings, mammograms, and counseling. These routine services, thought tempting to skip, can be life-saving. 

If you want to stay healthy, picking the right primary care physician is key.

To start, think about your current health and personal needs. Then, look for in-network physicians through your insurance. You can also ask friends or family members for their recommendations or look at Google My Business for recent reviews. If you’re dealing with chronic illnesses, ask your specialist(s) if they know of a PCP who can handle your level of care. By allowing your doctor to get to know you and your wellness goals, they’ll be able to design a health care plan to better fit your needs. 

If you feel overwhelmed as you search, consider making consultation appointments with a few local physicians. This tactic will allow you to meet and chat with a doctor outside of your annual appointment, helping you determine if they’re the right fit or not.

Staying with the same doctor helps improve your health outcomes. Not only does it ensure that you receive comprehensive and continuous care, but it also allows your doctor to personalize their approach and give you the attention you need.  

So how can you prepare for your first visit to a primary care physician?

To start, develop a list of current medications and do your best to track down any previous medical records. Make sure you have your insurance information handy too. PCP appointments include time to ask questions, so make the most of your visit and come prepared! Remember that bigger concerns or multiple symptoms may require additional visits, so focus on getting your most pressing issues addressed first.

Before you go, ask about their preferred method of communication outside of your visits. Many practices utilize a secure patient portal that allows you to handle non-emergency problems. This option may help decrease the need for follow-up, face-to-face visits, which can be more complicated to schedule. Find out what hospital they are affiliated with as well. Should an emergency arise, you need to be able to see a doctor who can easily access your medical history and records. 

 

Next month, we’ll focus on the labs completed at your annual primary care appointment and why they matter. Contact Dr. Asha Tota-Maharaj, MD at Platinum Primary Care with all your healthcare needs. Come visit us at 2071 Dundee Drive in Winter Park.