Choosing a good primary care doctor is a critical decision. You need to trust his or her decisions and build a good, long-lasting relationship. Yet finding the right one can be difficult since you also need a physician who is readily available, close to where you live, and covered by your health insurance.

To strike a good balance between what you want and what you can really find, and ultimately choose the right doctor, you need to understand what you’re looking for. Let’s have a look.

Tip #1: What Kind of Doctor Do You Want?

The more you know about the hypothetical doctor you’re looking for beforehand, the quicker it will be to find him or her. If you’re a busy salesman with very free little time available for a visit, you should find a physician who is readily available at any time with just a cold call.

If you suffer from a condition that forces you to bed for extended periods of time, you might want a doctor who can prescribe medications that can be sent directly to your home via an online pharmacy such as Medly.

If you have special medical needs such as diabetes or atrial fibrillation, an internist may help you avoid wasting money and time in referrals since he already has all the additional training in cardiology required. Or if you come from a foreign country, choosing a doctor who understands your religious or cultural needs may also be important to you.

Long story short?  Don’t start your search without knowing what you need from your doctor.

Tip #2: Find a Doctor You Can Afford

Although your health is (literally) vital, if you cannot afford the high prices of a given doctor, don’t make an appointment. Depending on your health insurance, some practitioners are simply too costly for your family budget to afford. At the same time, do not simply choose the least expensive one, unless you trust the physician to provide adequate care.

Many insurers offer you special discount plans if you search the optimal candidate within their network. However, check all the details for that plan: some charges such as hospital or lab fees can quickly add up, especially if you have high deductible or co-pay.  You can even find reviews of doctors online and see what other people have to say about the practice before you make an appointment.

Tip #3: Is the Doctor Accessible?

Sometimes , a one-hour drive each way just to reach your family doctor for a quick visit is not worth your time.  Especially if you live in a large city where traffic can be a problem, checking the exact location of your doctor is of paramount importance. The last thing you want is to spend a full afternoon stuck in traffic with a high fever.

Many physicians have more than one practice location, making your life much easier. Availability is also quite important as well. Depending on your needs, having to wait a week for a visit might not be an option at all. What about emergency calls and last-minute appointments – would he be available? Are these contingent events important to you?

If your working life never gives you the chance to catch a breath, choose a doctor who is also available during evenings or at least weekends. Also, try to know beforehand if he is really able to manage his appointments. There’s no use to get to his office in due time, and then have to wait in the waiting room for a full hour.

Conclusion

Despite how important our health is, we’re often confused on what a ‘good doctor’ looks like. Truly, it depends on your needs, as well as your  ability to take control of your health. Not every physician is equally skilled, yet no perfect doctor exists as well. You should try to find the right one that really suit your needs and build a good relationship with him or her. We’re talking about your health after all, so trusting the right person will make all the difference in this world.

What tips do you have for finding the right doctor?  Share your experience in the comments.

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