Questions to Ask a New Primary Care Doctor
Finding a new primary care doctor can be both exciting and stressful. If you have a clear idea of your health needs and what type of relationship you would like to establish with your doctor, then making the transition to a new doctor’s office can be a positive experience.
Creating a list of questions to ask your new doctor during your first appointment can help set the tone of your conversation and make you feel at ease. Also, make sure to bring information on your past medical history and consider bringing a friend or family member with you for support.
Common uncertainties that arise when switching doctors can include the patient-physician relationship, how the office is managed, and the doctor’s expertise in treating any pre-existing medical conditions you may have.
Questions that are frequently asked during an initial in-person or telehealth primary care doctors' appointment are highlighted below.
Establishing a valuable relationship with your primary care physician can improve not only your quality of life when it comes to your health but can help prevent serious medical conditions that may arise over the course of your life.
Questions to gauge how the patient-physician relationship is perceived by your doctor may include:
- How do you approach the patient-physician relationship?
- Can I email or text you with non-emergency questions?
- Who will I see when you are unavailable?
- How long will my appointments last? Is there a timeframe you have to follow?
- Will you advocate on my behalf with specialists and insurance companies?
- Do you ever make house calls?
Making it a priority to always be open and honest with your doctor can help establish a trustworthy relationship and improve the quality of your visit.
The flow, organization, friendliness of staff, and how smoothly the office operates can have a big impact on your relationship with your primary care doctor and satisfaction with your care.
It is important to understand the doctor’s office policies and procedures to help gauge quality of care, timely follow-up, and efficiency.
A few important questions to ask regarding office management may include:
- How does the office handle emergencies?
- Do you keep paper or electronic medical records?
- Do you have a patient portal to get lab results and appointment notes?
- Do you have an online resource?
- What days/hours does the physician see patients?
- What is the process for urgent care? Do you take same-day appointments?
- What forms of payment do you take?
- Do you have an interpreter available?
- What days are the busiest? When is the best time to call?
- Can you provide me with a list of how much things cost?
- Do you offer telehealth visits?
Gut instinct is a powerful tool as well. If you don’t feel comfortable with the doctor or office staff, it is ok to look for a new primary care physician that meets your needs and expectations.
Medical condition expertise
Choosing the right primary care physician depends on why you are seeing them in the first place.
A person who is healthy and intends to have a primary care doctor for annual physicals and prescriptions will have different needs and expectations than someone who has one or more chronic conditions that need to be monitored and treated.
If you need a primary care doctor that has expertise in a specific medical condition or patient population, then asking condition-specific questions can help you gauge the doctor’s expertise and treatment style.
- What are ways I can reduce my risk of heart disease?
- How can I get my cholesterol down?
- How do you screen for cancer?
- What is the latest research on my condition?
- How can we reduce the amount of medication I take?
- Is mental and emotional health important in your patient assessment?
Taking an active role in your health, treatment plan, and providing your doctor with a detailed medical and family history is the best way to build a strong and trustworthy relationship with your primary care physician that can last a lifetime.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality provides a great worksheet to use before your first appointment with a new doctor.
At Tripment, we believe that healthcare can be done better, and it starts with helping people understand the importance of finding a primary care physician that is right for you and your health needs. Click here to find a reputable primary care provider who can help you stay on top of your routine medical needs.
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