One of the things I have come to realize in medical care is that you need a specific doctor, physician, or healthcare provider, and the process of choosing one is similar to choosing a partner. Thus, just like in any successful relationship, you need a caring, listening, and supporting companion in your health care. This medical partner ultimately connects with you and helps you choose what would be best for your overall health. I have formed great relationships with my doctors. With every visit, we do not just discuss my present medical concerns. Rather, we might have light conversations revolving around family, school, and developments in personal lives, such as career changes. This creates an ideal atmosphere for us to have an open dialogue about my overall health concerns and treatment options.
However, many people do not have such relationships with their doctors. As a result, many patients are not disclosing crucial details about their health with their doctors, and the consequences are apparent. Insufficient communication with doctors can lead to a misdiagnosis or missed diagnoses. In a recent study conducted by the research institute RTI, more than 20% of patients visiting the nation’s best hospitals are misdiagnosed by primary care providers. The number increases sharply in fewer premiers’ medical institutions. The research points out to an often-ignored fact that there is a high probability that you will be misdiagnosed if you do not have a good relationship with your doctor.
The underlying issue that most doctors face is the multiplicity of diseases but very few symptoms. Thus, if there isn’t a conducive environment for you to disclose all your symptoms, the risk of misdiagnosis goes up. Up to date, more than 10,000 diseases have been discovered, yet the human body will only show about 300 symptoms.
In this article, I will focus on the importance of choosing a specific primary care provider and highlight what you should factor in when making such a decision.
Singling out a specific doctor to attend to your medical needs will lead to better communication, correct diagnoses, and access to more effective healthcare services. There are several things that you should consider when choosing a doctor and I find the following to be the most crucial.
a. Insurance plan limitations
Some insurance plans have plan-approved or plan-affiliated doctors; this can limit the choice of doctors you can consult to gain the financial incentives from your insurer. Therefore, always start by checking with your coverage to see whether there are limitations on the doctors you can choose.
b. Location of the doctor
While choosing a doctor, you must factor in their location because when you are in a critical condition, it might be overwhelming to travel far distances to find your primary care provider. Therefore, for your convenience, find a nearby doctor, probably minutes away from you.
c. Availability of the doctor
While you might land several good doctors, you might want to factor in their availability before you settle on one. Many good doctors have tight schedules, hence, it becomes hard to find a slot to book for an appointment. Convenience matters a lot in healthcare and a few days of waiting could cause you untold suffering. Therefore, find a doctor that is available to see you in a few days’ notice or on the same day if you have an urgent medical issue.
Communication with your doctor should be effortless, free, and open. Quite a number of people withhold uncomfortable details about their sicknesses when they are dealing with doctors they feel difficult to open up to. Therefore, you must choose a doctor you feel at ease to talk to. The right doctor will try and create a safe space for you to freely and easily communicate with them. A doctor that fully understands your conditions will be able to come up with an ideal treatment method.
Besides the doctor, you want to factor in the hospital in which the doctor operates. Some hospitals have more features such as tech-integrated processes, which make it easy to make appointments, view your medical records, and communicate with doctors. Similarly, others have better equipment, thus you might find treatment for all your illnesses under the same roof. While your chosen doctor will mostly be a primary care provider, they will be able to refer you to other reliable doctors in the same hospital when you require specialized treatment.
After completing the above checklist, you will arrive at a list of physicians that can attend to you. When you are making an informed choice about the one to go with, you should conduct further assessment by:
a. Asking around
You can ask your friends, colleagues, and family who might have interacted with the doctor or even visited the hospital the chosen doctor works in to understand their concerns or impressions about the facility and the health care provider.
b. Inquiring about your insurance coverage
You can call your insurance provider to know whether your chosen doctor is covered by their plan. Limitations do exist which may cause you to incur costs for visiting a doctor your plan does not cover.
c. Performing a quality check
d. Making a cold call
Lastly, you can call your chosen doctor’s office and assess the phone etiquette of the staff and their willingness to help. The staff form a significant part of your experience, thus it’s always good to have a combination of an ideal doctor and great support staff.
The following are the benefits you will have once you choose a specific primary care provider:
a. They are more informed about your conditions
The main benefit of having one doctor to attend to you is that he/she will accrue a wealth of knowledge about your state of health with every visit. Therefore, they will be aware of any preexisting conditions, slow development of symptoms, the effectiveness of previous medication, and your overall state of health. Hence, it will be easier for them to identify new illnesses and understand any complications you might be facing.
b. They are more informed about the diseases you are most exposed to
Your place of work and residence, the type of work you do, and your travel tendencies are among the factors that might affect the types of illnesses that you may get. If you visit a specific doctor, they will already know these factors due to previous interactions and will easily narrow down on potential illnesses. On the other hand, a new doctor will have to review your medical records or ask you several questions to understand your medical history and make some decisions about your treatment.
c. They will know your body’s reactions to different types of medication
Disease-causing agents build resistant to some drugs over time. Similarly, people react to drugs differently. While a new doctor will know factors specific to you that might affect your medication, your ‘personal’ doctor will know from previous medication which types of treatment works best for your body.
d. They are easier to have an open dialogue with
You will get accustomed to talking to a specific doctor; hence form a cordial relationship with them. This will allow you to openly dialogue with them about your symptoms, previous diseases, lifestyle, and other potential causes and signs of illnesses. These could be vital in reducing the cases of misdiagnosis.
I have been actively involved in the medical industry for long and I believe that what ails most patients is the lack of a good doctor-patient relationship. An appointment with the doctor should be something you look forward to and this can only be achieved if you have a trustable, open, caring, and available physician. The checklists I have shared will help you in the search for your ideal doctor. Furthermore, you can always reach me to help you narrow down on any list of physicians you have. In any case, you should prioritize your health above all other things; I am here ready to help you do that, so let me walk in your shoes. Remember selecting a good doctor is just like selecting a lifetime partner. Your physician will be with you for a lifetime just like your partner.