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,
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.
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 NHmillerstreetfamilymed.org.