Tips for Choosing Your Primary Care Physician


By Jennifer Meadows

Your primary care provider is the first in line when it comes to managing your health. From annual wellness visits to nonemergency illnesses and injuries – they care for you.

Since they play such a huge role in your health care, there are some important things to look for when choosing a primary care physician. Dr. Julia Yu of Novant Health Miller Street Family Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, shared some key characteristics to keep in mind.

The importance of relationship

“The most important thing to consider when choosing your primary care physician is your comfort level with that provider,” Yu said. “You need to make sure your physician is someone you feel comfortable discussing sensitive health topics with.”

Yu noted it’s important for patients to feel like they have quality time with their provider during each visit. Providers want their patients to feel at ease bringing up uncomfortable topics to ensure questions are answered and that their patient receives the best possible care,
she said.

Going digital

Because it’s still fairly new, patients may not consider whether their provider has access to an electronic health record. Yu and her clinic use MyChart, which allows patients to log in and view their health records, email a provider and schedule appointments online.

“I think being active with an electronic health record is extremely important,” Yu said. “They are real-time, patient-centered records that make information available instantly and securely to patients and their physician(s).”

“Going beyond the medical and treatment histories of patients, the electronic health record is built to be inclusive of a broader view of a patient’s care,” she added.

Yu noted that email, e-visits and video visits offer new options to connect with your primary care provider conveniently.

Staying connected

Another important piece Yu said to consider is access. When you first meet with your provider, you may want to ask the following questions:

Who will I see if you are not available? Who are the other providers at this clinic?

How are after-hours appointments or phone calls handled?

Where should I go for care when the clinic
is not open?

What services do you offer at the clinic?  Will I have to go elsewhere for labs or X-rays?

“As providers, we want to be efficient and effective,” Yu said. “Connecting with a patient and making sure we’re accessible is important.”

On the network

One last thing to ponder – and perhaps one of the most important points of consideration – is whether the provider you want to see is in your insurance network. Patients should check with their insurance company to make sure appointments with the provider they choose will be covered by their insurance.

“Check your insurance and your insurer’s directory or search on their website for doctors in your network,” Yu said. “It doesn’t hurt to call the office to verify that you’re covered.”

Dr. Julia Yu specializes in family medicine and in addition  to seeing patients at Novant Health Miller Street Family Medicine, is on active staff at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center. For more info, visit


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7 thoughts on “Tips for Choosing Your Primary Care Physician”

  1. Larry Weaver says:

    Thanks for the tip to check your insurance and insurer’s directory to see if you can get covered by a specific primary care physician. My parents are looking to find a physician, so I thought I would help them find someone that they could be covered by. Finding a primary care physician that is easy to connect with is also important for my parents, due to how often they travel about.

  2. Jordan says:

    I’ve been wanting to find a good family practice doctor, and I think that some tips would be helpful. I’m glad you talked about being able to look for care when a clinic isn’t open, and how you should have another option. I’m going to have to look for a few options, and I think that being able to find a good physician would be good! Thanks!

  3. For a little while now, my brother has been looking for a family physician. He is not sure what criteria he should go off of to choose the right one. It would benefit him and his family to know that you should ask questions like who are they available physicians and their hours.

  4. Thanks for mentioning how a family doctor should be someone you can be comfortable with. I like how you said that they should use computers and electronics. My husband and I are looking for a family doctor; thanks for the post.

  5. Katie Wilson says:

    I agree that a good primary care doctor has digital records. This would be smart because it would prevent the loss of your medical records from a fire or something similar. I’m looking for a new primary care doctor for my family, so I’ll have to check if they have gone digital.

  6. Millie Hue says:

    It really helped when you said that we should choose an expert who will make us feel comfortable because it will assure you that you will be receiving the best care. I will keep this in mind so that we will find the best medical facility in the new neighborhood that we will be living in next year. We just needed to have a facility that we can trust because my child easily gets sick due to being a premature baby.

  7. Katie Wilson says:

    Thanks for the tip about considering a doctor’s online skills when choosing them. Finding someone who has an online scheduler would, as you say, make things a lot easier. My husband and I are looking for a primary care physician, so we’ll have to check their tech skills first.

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