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Top 4 Tips for Picking a Primary Care Physician

my doctors

You know you need one. Isn’t it about time to find a doctor you can count on, no matter what? They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But what good is a Honeycrisp when you have a cold you can’t kick or an ache that just won’t quit? There’s nothing like being able to call on the expertise of a primary care physician who knows your name.

“It’s important to have a relationship with a primary care physician who has your best interest in mind,” says Katie Germany, MD, Internal and Pediatric Medicine physician at Billings Clinic in Billings, Montana. “You want to find someone you can trust and confide in and who will take responsibility for your continuous, comprehensive care.”

It’s a big job for a doc – and an important decision for you. When looking for your primary care physician, keep these questions in mind:

1. Can you establish rapport with this provider?

Having a strong relationship with a provider and his or her team is important, and this is especially true when it comes to a primary care provider. “Your primary care provider acts as home base for your medical needs,” Germany says. “Find someone with whom you can freely share all of your health concerns.”

Ideally, you want to develop a long-standing relationship with your primary care team so that they can get to know you, your health history and your family’s medical history.

2. Does the provider’s practice serve as a ‘medical home’?

A patient-centered medical home is a system of care in which a team of health professionals work together to provide all of your health care needs. This team may include a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant, nurse, navigator, and pharmacist, as well as other health care professionals. These team members are like having health coaches who help you get healthy, stay healthy and get the care and services that are right for you.

“Health care providers that participate in medical home have demonstrated that they deliver patient-centered services and are dedicated to excellence and continued improvement,” says Germany. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) sets standards, certifies and annually reviews and accredits health care organizations that participate in this voluntary program. All Billings Clinic branch clinics serve as patient centered medical homes. They also share electronic medical records, so physicians can access information about the care you receive at any Billings Clinic location.

3. What type of practice suits your needs?

A family medicine doctor cares for entire families, including adults and children. Having one primary physician and care team can be a convenience for busy families. You might also choose to have doctors who specialize in particular age groups. Internal medicine providers treat adults while pediatricians care for children. Ideally, your primary care physician and care team are part of an integrated network of specialists who can work together to deliver you the highest quality care possible.

“Make sure the medical home you choose has strong relationships and immediate access to specialty providers, such as endocrinologists, oncologists, orthopedists, and cardiologists,” says Germany.

4. Did you read the small print?

As you choose a primary care team, be picky. Pay attention to details. This is your health, after all. The physician leading your care team should be board-certified. And don’t neglect one of the most fundamental questions: is this physician in your insurance company’s preferred network?

Posted: Apr 29, 2015. By KTVQ’s Q2 News
Copyright © KTVQ.com 2015

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