By Optum New Mexico
Excellent medical care and optimal health starts with a positive relationship with your primary care doctor. People with a primary care doctor may be healthier, in part, because they are more likely to have an annual checkup, health screenings, and immunizations. So, choosing a physician who you trust, can speak openly with, and can access is of the utmost importance.
Ease of access to care is a particularly critical factor to consider when selecting a primary care doctor. You’ll want to be sure that the physician’s office is not only convenient to get to but also that the doctor can see you when you need to be seen.
Optum New Mexico has just opened a new primary care clinic at 9501 Paseo del Norte NE, at the northwest corner of Holbrook Street. The clinic, which will have four physicians and support staff, is not only welcoming new patients but also is the first Optum New Mexico clinic focused on providing primary and outpatient care to patients 65 and older, specifically Medicare and Medicare Advantage plan members, and other future value-based plans. It may be one to consider, depending on your needs and where you live.
Other elements are important, too. Here are 10 tips for choosing a primary care physician (PCP) who is a good match for you:
1) Ask for recommendations.
The first step to finding the right doctor is to talk to your family and friends about their doctors. A recommendation from someone you trust is an ideal way to find a PCP. But remember that each person is different. Just because someone else loves their physician doesn’t mean that the doctor is right for you. Keep in mind things that make appointments convenient and comfortable for you, such as the doctor’s age, gender, training, and location.
2) Make sure you have coverage.
Gather a list of possible doctors. Then check whether they are covered by your insurance plan.
3) Do a quality check.
When you hire someone to do work on your home, chances are you research the quality of their work. So why would you choose a doctor without doing the same? Try using the Physician Compare tool on Medicare.gov.
4) Place a cold call.
Call a potential doctor’s office for a first impression. You can determine whether it may be a good fit for you by how you are treated on the phone, as well as by how the office staff work to get you an appointment.
5) Ask about logistics.
Ask about office practices to get a sense of how the doctor’s office is run. Questions could include:
- How does the office handle prescription refills?
- How do they let you know about test results?
- What are your cancelation policies?
- Who covers for a doctor when they are not available?
6) Keep your needs in mind.
Every person has unique health care needs, and those needs change as you age. Ask your doctor about his or her specialties or areas of interest. If you have complex medical needs, you may benefit from seeing a geriatrician. Geriatricians specialize in the care of older patients.
7) Look at the bigger picture.
At your first visit, make sure your doctor’s view on patient care lines up with your own. If it does, you may be more likely to follow his or her recommendations. Take this into consideration when deciding whether to stick with a doctor after your first appointment.
8) Avoid culture shock.
Every culture has its own customs and ideas about medical care. It’s important to find a doctor who speaks your language, and is also sensitive to your cultural and religious beliefs.
9) Map it out.
Find a doctor located conveniently close to home. You won’t want to travel very far when you’re not feeling well. If your doctor’s office is nearby, you may be more likely to keep appointments for preventive care when you’re healthy.
10) Trust your gut.
Your primary care doctor is going to be an important advocate for your health. It’s critical that you trust him or her and feel comfortable asking questions. When you’ve settled on a first choice for your PCP, consider scheduling an appointment to go over your medical history, health concerns, and any remaining issues. If you think the doctor appears knowledgeable, listens carefully, and answers your questions, you may have found a match — a physician to collaborate with on your continuing health needs.