7 steps to choosing the right primary care provider

When it comes to maintaining your long-term health and well-being, everyone can use some expert help on occasion — and it’s best if the help comes from a healthcare professional who knows you and your health-related history well. In ideal cases, this medical expert can even serve as a lifelong partner in supporting and maintaining your well-being. And for these reasons and more, choosing the right primary care provider (PCP) is an important decision for all of us. 

What is a Primary Care Provider?

A PCP is a doctor or nurse practitioner who specializes in family medicine and can serve as a patient’s go-to resource for any health-related questions or needs. Some of the important services a PCP can provide to his or her patients include regular health checkups, treatment of a range of common ailments like infections, allergic reactions and injuries, and the diagnosis and management of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Further, when more specialized care is required, a PCP can help patients recognize this and refer them to the right medical specialists to meet their specific needs.

How to choose the right PCP

Perhaps you are looking for your first primary care provider, or maybe you’re looking to replace an old one who’s simply not the best fit. Or maybe you’ve undergone a change in insurance coverage or have relocated and need to find an all-new primary caregiver. Whatever the reason behind your PCP search, you’ll want to make an effort to find someone who you’re comfortable with and who has the expertise to meet your specific needs. The process of identifying a good fit in a PCP can also benefit from a healthy dose of research and planning.

To find a primary caregiver who’s right for you and can serve as your long-term partner in health, consider taking these seven steps:

  1. Get recommendations — A good initial step in finding a primary care provider you’ll like is to ask your family members, friends and other people you trust for suggestions. If any of them have a provider they’ve been impressed with and had great experiences with, there’s a good chance you might like the provider, too.
  1. Make sure your insurance covers the provider — Once you’ve got a handful of PCP candidates in mind, check to ensure that they’re covered by your health plan/in your plan’s provider network. Going to an in-network provider will typically result in much lower charges for your visits and services, so this is an important step. And nearly all modern insurance providers offer a website and/or phone number where you can check whether the providers you’ve got in mind work with your health plan. (In most cases, you can also check for this by contacting the provider’s office.)
  1. Track down data on care quality — Especially in today’s digitally driven world, finding provider ratings and reviews is typically a task that can be achieved via some internet research. A few popular online choices for looking into your candidates’ care quality include:
    – Google Maps Listings: By searching Google, you can find local, top-rated primary care providers, where you will find Wilmington Health providers listed.
    – Wilmington Health website showcases many primary care providers, their patient survey data, as well as patient testimonials.
    – Your insurance company’s website, leveraging their “Find a Provider” tools.
  1. Look into location and logistics — How far are you willing to travel to see your primary care provider? And do you have any specific requirements of your primary care provider, such as a certain way you like to have prescriptions refilled or the ability to make virtual caregiver visits? How do you like to communicate with your care provider (phone calls, emails, texts?), and does this PCP candidate support this type of communications? Before choosing your new PCP, make sure that he or she checks all the boxes that you consider to be mandatory.
  1. Ensure an expertise fit — There are different types of caregivers who can serve as primary care providers, and you’ll want to choose the one who is the best fit for your needs. Internal medicine caregivers (also known as internists) specialize in diagnosing and preventing chronic conditions. Family medicine caregivers can treat patients of all ages, and they have expertise in diagnosing and treating a range of conditions and ailments. And pediatrics caregivers specialize in caring for infants, children and adolescents up to the age of 18.
  1. Make a call, or pay a visit — A phone call with the provider or a staff member, as well as an in-person visit to his or her office, can also help you determine if the candidate is a fit with your personal preferences. In addition to giving you a chance to get a first-person impression of the practice, this will also offer you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the practice and the way it operates.
  1. Go with your gut — Ultimately, the right primary care physician for you will depend on how you feel about the candidates you’ve considered, and particularly on which one you prefer personally. Base your final decision on all of the factors outlined above, as well as which candidate your gut tells you is the right choice.

Get TRUE Care — and a partner in maintaining your well-being — at Wilmington Health

Whether you’re seeking a primary care provider specializing in internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics, Wilmington Health is committed to delivering TRUE Care for the whole person. To accommodate all your healthcare needs, the Wilmington Health team features primary care providers for families and individuals of all ages, as well as a wide range of specialists.

To learn more about the array of medical specialties covered by Wilmington Health and to find a provider who can meet your long-term healthcare needs, visit our website today.