They see you for annual checkups to prevent problems before they develop. They also help you manage chronic conditions, like high blood pressure or diabetes, and treat colds, injuries and more. If you need to see a specialist, they coordinate care to ensure you get personalized attention.
Good communication is vital to the doctor-patient partnership. Talking about your health can sometimes be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but it’s essential. The more your doctor knows about you, the better they’re able to look out for your health.
What’s Important to You?
When you have a long-term relationship with your doctor, they get to know the details of your health history, your reactions to medicines, your lifestyle and your health challenges. They personalize your care, considering your health risks and preferences.
What’s most meaningful to you:
- Male or female. Who do you feel most comfortable with?
- Language and culture. Find someone who speaks your language and who’s sensitive to your cultural and religious needs and preferences.
- Location. What’s most convenient for you — near work, home or your kids’ school?
- Online convenience. If you want to access your records, refill prescriptions, and email your doctor online, find out if they have a patient portal.
- Video appointments. If in-person visits are a challenge, ask about alternatives.
- Flexible appointment scheduling. If you can’t get to the doctor during regular work hours, find someone with extended or flexible hours.
- Hospital affiliation. If you prefer a particular hospital, make sure your doctor has privileges there.
Call the doctor’s office and learn about what they offer. You can see what it’s like to work with the support staff — they’re who you’ll work with for scheduling follow-up visits, tests and other details.
Types of Primary Care Doctors
Are you choosing a doctor for yourself, your child or for everyone in your family? Consider what’s best:
- Family medicine doctors care for people of all ages and offer prenatal and OB-GYN care. That means everyone in your family can have the same doctor for routine care.
- Internal medicine doctors treat people 18 and older and also have a subspecialty. That’s important if you have a particular health issue. You can choose someone who specializes in diabetes, geriatrics, rheumatology or another area.
- Pediatricians specialize in treating infants, children and adolescents.
Your First Appointment
Your first visit is an excellent opportunity to get to know your doctor. Make sure you’re comfortable with their communication style — do they listen to you, and do they explain things in a way you can understand? Are they attentive or distracted and rushed?
When you’re comfortable with your doctor and their style of care, you can get the most from your visits. A strong partnership with your doctor can make all the difference in your health and well-being.
Learn more about what you can expect from your primary care doctor.
Looking for a primary care doctor? We partner with trusted doctors across the South Bay. Search for a primary care doctor.
This article first appeared in the October 2018 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.