Family doctors provide comprehensive healthcare to patients of all ages. Their focus is on the diagnosis, treatment and management of acute illnesses and chronic conditions, as well as disease prevention. They are often your first point of contact if you are sick or need medical advice, so choosing a doctor that you can depend on and who has your best interests at heart is key. If you are considering a family doctor, here are some tips to help you find the right one for all your healthcare needs.
- Do Your Research
With over 85,000 family doctors to choose from in the US, it can be daunting finding a family doctor that is right for you. The best place to start is by doing your research to ensure you find the professional treatment and care you deserve. If you are researching online, ensure you use reputable websites to help you, such as the MedlinePlus website or the American Medical Association (AMA) website, which have access to a directory of certified doctors in your area.
Make sure you think about the location of your family doctor, as depending on your health needs, you may need to see your doctor regularly, so ensuring it is convenient to your home is important.
- Do a Quality Check
When considering a family doctor, it can be useful to see what other people are saying about them by reading online reviews. Patient satisfaction surveys can also be helpful, which have information about scheduling, availability, their demeanor and more. Your insurer may also be able to provide information about the quality ratings of a specific provider in your network.
- Seek Recommendations
Recommendations from someone you trust, such as a friend or relative, can be a beneficial way to help you find a highly-skilled family doctor that suits your needs. If you are moving to a new area, your current doctor may be able to give you advice or make recommendations on family doctors in your new location. Also, if you are involved with any other healthcare professionals, they may be able to recommend a good family doctor. You could even ask your local pharmacist for guidance.
- Do They Provide Additional Services?
Depending on the setting where a family doctor is based, there may be access to additional health services that may be of benefit to you, particularly if you have specific health needs. If you have young children, you may want to opt for a pediatric facility or if you are age 65 or over, you may want to consider a dedicated senior medical center, which delivers additional in-house services, such as:
- Diagnostic services
- Social services
- Inhouse specialists, such as optometry, psychiatry, podiatry, or physical therapy
- Prescription delivery
- Case management and clinical care
- Telehealth visits
- Transportation services
- Check if You are Restricted by Your Insurer
If you plan to use private health insurance, check your insurance plan to see if there is a preapproved list of doctors. Always check exactly what is included in your plan and that the doctor is covered by your insurance to avoid any unexpected or hidden expenses in the future. Also check that the doctor accepts your health insurance plan, and that they are accepting new patients before you commit.
- Verify Accreditations and Experience
You should always check that a family doctor is board-certified and has the necessary accreditations and experience to provide you with quality healthcare. If you have complex health issues or a chronic condition, such as diabetes, you may want to look for a doctor with a special interest in that area of medicine, or who is based in a facility that provides a range of services to better support your needs.
- Concentrate on What is Important to You
We all have a different set of requirements, and what is important for one person may not be the same for someone else. Think about what is important for you, such as the location, whether they offer same-day appointments or extended hours, whether the doctor provides virtual visits, how busy they are, and whether they have long wait times. If you do not drive, you may want to consider whether the center offers transportation services to give you the peace of mind that you can get there easily when you need to.
- Arrange A Visit
A family doctor is typically the first person you turn to when you are at your most vulnerable, so ensuring you choose a provider who you can trust and feel comfortable with is very important. Arrange a consultation to meet the doctor and staff to get a feel for the place and to learn more about the services they provide.
- Before Deciding, Ask Yourself Questions
Once you have met with the doctor, ask yourself the following questions to ensure they are right for you:
- Did the doctor address all of my questions?
- Was the doctor easy to talk to?
- Would I feel comfortable discussing personal problems with them?
- Was the doctor patient, and did they explain things clearly in a way that I understood?
- Were the other center staff friendly?
- How busy was the center; did I have to wait long?
- Was the center convenient and easy to get to?
- Trust your Instincts
A family doctor is an important advocate for your overall health. They are responsible for overseeing your healthcare needs and should take the time to listen to you and support you. If you’re unhappy or don’t feel comfortable, trust your gut and look elsewhere for a doctor who is a better fit.
Family Doctor in Central and South Florida
For compassionate, personalized healthcare, contact Palm Medical Centers. We provide high-quality value-based medical and social services with a diverse, dedicated and compassionate care team to oversee your care. We offer a comprehensive range of health and wellness services at our centers, including primary care, lab services, wellness activities, unlimited transportation, pharmacy, optometry, massage therapy, acupuncture, and more.