Many health insurance plans make you designate a primary care doctor, but finding the right one can be difficult and stressful. Michael R. Brown, DO, a family medicine doctor with Meritas Health Park Plaza (Kansas City North, near Parkville) shares tips to help you find a primary care physician that’ s a good fit. A primary care provider may be a family practice doctor, pediatrician or internal medicine doctor.
Partnering for Health
Why does someone need a primary care doctor? A primary care doctor can help you:
- Understand the big picture. A primary care doctor is your Chief Healthcare Educator, someone who sees the big picture when it comes to your health. He or she is familiar with your health history and will look at your office visits, as well as any convenient care or ER visits. The physician will help connect the dots to see what’s going on with your health, make sure any treatments are working and give you options for how to proceed. Healthcare can be complex. A good primary care doctor will be your guide.
- Prevent and manage chronic disease. Today, half of all adults live with a chronic disease or condition, like heart disease, diabetes, cancer or arthritis. A primary care doctor can really help you prevent or manage these conditions.
- Interpret Dr. Google. With so much information at our fingertips, it is very common for someone to look up symptoms online. “I actually think it’s great when a patient comes in to me having looked up information online,” Dr. Brown said. “They’re an engaged patient, and I just try to help them through that journey and convince them that, no, it’s not always cancer. No, it’s not always your heart, but let’s finds out what we need to do with the condition they have.”
Finding Potential Doctors
- Check with insurance. This is a great place to start to understand which physicians are in your network of coverage.
- Use word of mouth. Ask friends and family who they like and why? Their “reason” may be a deal-maker or a deal-breaker for you.
- Tap into social media. Finding a group of like-minded individuals or people who have similar medical needs is a good way to narrow your list of potential doctors.
- Read reviews. Reading online reviews from websites such as Healthgrades can help you narrow down a list of potential doctors from your insurance company. As with any online review, don’t get stuck on one great or not-so-great review. Look for trends in how the physician provides care and how that aligns with your needs and preferences.
Asking the Right Questions
During your first appointment, ask a lot of questions. That will give you a feel on if you’re on the same page and have the same style as the doctor. For example, some people believe the doctor knows best and want the physician to give them specific instructions. Other people want options. They want to understand what different treatment options are available for their health condition and make the choice.
If the physician is not a good fit, how do you end the relationship?
“I tell patients that there are as many physicians as there are personalities so, yes, there’s going to be some times where maybe you don’t see eye to eye with your physician,” Dr. Brown said. “I think that’s okay. I think that if you have a hard time or you do not understand your physician, start that conversation. Let them know why. See if they can make some compromises with you or guide your care in the way that you want. If not, ask them for a referral. We have a lot of friends and colleagues. If one may be a better fit for you, I’d be happy to recommend you to one of those people. Knowing your personality as I do, I can send you to one of my peers who would be a better fit.”
“The healthcare journey is your journey,” Dr. Brown added. “I’m just trying to help you get the care you’re looking for in the way you want it because there are a lot of decisions that have to be made along the way.”
If you’re searching for a primary care doctor, visit MoreMeritas.com to find a physician near you, or call 816.221.HEAL (4325).