A primary care physician (PCP) is a go-to doctor for non-emergency situations.  He or she can also be your family doctor. The PCP is someone who not only helps you with treatment but also helps in preventative care and shares tips on leading a healthy lifestyle.  The PCP is also familiar with your medical history and is aware of the common medical problems in your family.

The primary care physician is the one who performs the patient and his family’s annual health checks, conducts screenings and performs vaccinations. Thus, this person is someone with whom you have a long-term professional relationship, ranging from many years to an entire lifetime.

Here are five things to consider when you look out for a primary care physician:

  1. What kind of doctor are you looking for – Even within the realm of primary care, there are different types of doctors that you can choose depending on your individual need as a person.  For instance, there are doctors who are specialized in child healthcare known as paediatricians; there are physicians who are expert in treating older patients, also known as geriatricians; OB/GYN doctors who are specialized in women’s health; etc. Then, there are family doctors that address a wide range of health issues, for any age.
  2. Which care provider falls under your cashless insurance plan – A smart thing would be to look for a primary care provider who falls under the cashless scheme of your health insurance. Health insurance plans have two components, the reimbursement method, and cashless method. In the first, you have to pay medical expenses in case of hospital admission and then claim reimbursement. In the cashless scheme, you do not have to pay anything out of your pocket.
  3. How good is the doctor’s office? – Find out how the doctor’s office is, the amenities, the office hours, distance from your home and office. Gauge how friendly and polite the staff is.
  4. The attitude of the doctor – This is one of the most important factors that can make you avail the doctor’s years for years to come. How good is the doctor when it comes to communicating with you or the other patients? Does the doctor have a good tie-up with good diagnostic services or laboratory testing centers?  Is he or she patient, open-minded, friendly and a good listener? How accessible is he through different modes of communication? Is he or she able to answer basic queries through a phone call? Is he or she the type you can call at 11 PM to ask if you can take another alternative to the prescribed medication? Does the doctor merely dole medications or answer all your health concerns and give information on how a particular medication can work to your advantage? Can the doctor refer you to other specialized doctors based on the condition of your case?
  5. How does the doctor rank on referrals? What do people in your neighbourhood, friends, and colleagues have to say about the doctor? Nowadays, there are many review sites that give information and feedback on the doctor and his services. You can use these tips to choose the right type of primary care physician for you.

A good primary care physician will insist you to go for diagnostic tests once a year, at least.  He or she will educate you on getting a blood testurine test, etc. done. He or she will educate you on the importance of diabetic screening and other such laboratory tests.  Contact a diagnostic service center to get a comprehensive health check-up.

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