Choosing a new primary care doctor is a very important choice at any point in our lives, but especially as we get older. The questions that cross our minds are: I’m not happy with my current doctor, but is it too much of a hassle to switch? Will I have to wait months to be seen? Do they have emergency appointments? Will they know my health history and access to my records? Overall, will they know and care about me?
In reality, choosing a doctor can seem confusing and challenging but shouldn’t be; between navigating the seemingly endless amount of health care information online to understanding the process of switching doctors or insurance plans, it can be incredibly daunting. With all of this in mind, we suggest five key tips that will help in choosing a doctor that’s right for you:
#1 Consider How Much Time You Need With Your Doctor
It’s important to look for a doctor that will spend an appropriate amount of time with you, answer all of your questions and not make you feel rushed through your visit with them. Why? Because you deserve to feel listened to and cared for by your physician.
#2 Primary Care Referrals and Patient Reviews
People often feel most comfortable visiting a doctor that is well recommended by someone they know. Family and friends are a valuable resource, knowing that the suggestion they give will have your best interest at heart. It’s also worth asking around your local community or senior center to see if there are any clinics that people favor.
#3 Does the Primary Care Physician Meet Your Needs?
Good primary care looks at the whole person. This means addressing all of your questions and concerns and looking beyond medication and constant referrals to specialists as the answers to everything. We recommend searching for a doctor that will focus on your needs, and help you hone in on your goals, on both a physical and emotional level.
#4 Find a Good Local Doctor
Is the clinic you’re considering near where you live? Convenience is important to most adults 65+; especially when you’re sick, need to be seen urgently, or don’t drive. Having a clinic that’s in or close to your hometown is an important factor for your care.
Does the practice offer assistance if you need help getting there? For instance at Iora, we provide transportation to patients that need help getting to appointments.
#5 Visiting a Potential Primary Care Doctor Practice
Most people don’t “buy” a product without either testing it out or seeing it beforehand. We recommend stopping into the clinic you’re considering and asking for a tour. Does the space seem welcoming and inviting? Are the facilities friendly for older adults? Does it suit your needs? Do you feel comfortable there? These are all questions to consider on your tour.
If you’ve considered all of the above, have done your research and identified what you need from a primary care physician, then make sure you get it. Everyone deserves great primary care, and it gets even more important as you get older. If something feels off, it usually is.