A primary care provider (PCP) is a healthcare provider who offers preventive care services, as well as disease management. PCPs are crucial resources for helping people with living a healthy lifestyle or managing an ongoing health problem. These providers are also the go-to person when minor illnesses arise. Usually, a PCP is a doctor by training, but the provider may also be a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or another type of advanced practice provider. Consider these 4 tips for choosing the right PCP.
1. Ask about care philosophy
Healthcare providers have different approaches, philosophies, and opinions. Although all providers have a baseline of similar training in general health guidelines, doctors can still have different methods. Ask the provider questions about the care approach: what’s the stance on holistic versus traditional medicine? Does the provider have any specialty training? These questions matter for finding the right fit.
2. Consider logistics
Even after finding someone with the right care philosophy, the logistics still matter. Is the provider close by and accessible? Does the office take the right insurance? How long is the waitlist to get an appointment? All of these factors matter when establishing care with a new provider. Hopefully, asking all these questions the first time means that the established relationship lasts for years to come.
3. Use your local network
One of the best ways to find any new provider, from healthcare to finding a new barber, is to ask for word-of-mouth referrals. Talk with friends, family members, neighbors, or coworkers for recommendations. Some people may even ask a specialist such as a cardiologist for a PCP recommendation.
4. Trust your gut
The most crucial factor in finding a PCP is establishing care with someone the patient is comfortable with. During that first call or visit, reflect inward. Was the provider easy to understand? Was the provider welcoming? What about the front office staff? Did the provider and nurses show respect and care? All of these factors are crucial for a positive long-term relationship.
The importance of primary care
A primary care provider should be a long-term partner in health. The provider should be a trusted resource for health information, guidance, and care. When people come down with a cold, ear infection, flu, or other minor illness, these specialists are at the front line of helping people get well. Visiting a primary care provider each year can play a significant role in preventing chronic diseases and improving overall health.