For most people, primary care providers are the first person they turn to for any type of health problem and for preventive care. Because of the pivotal role a PCP plays, choosing the right provider is critical. Here are five tips to help.

Primary care doctors play a vital role in helping people of all ages stay healthy, providing treatment for acute illnesses and chronic diseases in addition to preventive care. Today, you have lots of choices when it comes to selecting a doctor, which is a good thing — but it can also be confusing.

With locations in Gaithersburg, Germantown, Rockville and Columbia, Maryland, Doctors First PC wants every person to feel empowered and informed when it comes to choosing their primary care provider (PCP). Here are five tips that can help.

1. Know the different types of primary care

Primary care doctors provide care to people of all ages, but there are some specific “types” of primary care doctors who might be a better fit for your needs.

Many family doctors also provide gynecology and geriatric care, as well.

In addition, the practice might have nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants who provide primary care. Knowing the type of medical care you want, as well as the type of provider, can help you narrow down your choices.

2. Ask about insurance

This is actually one of the first questions you should ask. Our practice accepts most major insurance plans, but many practices do not. If a practice doesn’t accept your insurance, that doesn’t mean they won’t treat you — it just means you’ll have higher out-of-pocket costs, and you may have to pay for your care at your appointment rather than be billed.

You can call a doctor’s office to ask if they take your insurance. Or, you can begin your search by going to your insurance company’s website and looking for a list of providers who work with it. Some plans also have “tiers” of coverage depending on whether a provider is considered inside or outside their list of preferred providers. This designation can also have an impact on the amount you pay.

3. Look at reviews and recommendations

Getting a recommendation from a family member or trusted friend or coworker is a good way to find a primary care doctor, and so are online reviews. Just remember that everyone has their own expectations and preferences when it comes to medical care and medical providers, and take reviews (and even recommendations) with a grain of salt.

4. Think about location

Maybe your coworker has recommended a primary care provider to you. But your coworker lives about an hour away — and the practice is there, too. 

While you should never sacrifice quality of care over location, you do want a practice that’s convenient enough to get care when you need it — and to make sure you have those all-important annual physicals and checkups. Fortunately, the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., metro area is home to lots of great doctors, including our own top-rated team. 

5. Ask about extras

Maybe you want a practice that offers telehealth for those times when you prefer to consult over the phone. Or maybe you’d like a practice that has an on-site lab for blood tests and other basic lab services. These and other services can be great conveniences — but not every practice has them.

Before making a decision, call the practice and ask about the services that are most important to you. The phone call can also be a great time to assess how responsive they are when dealing with a potential patient over the phone.

Having a primary care doctor you can trust means you’ll always feel confident you have someone in your corner when you have a health question or concern. To learn more about the care and services our primary care team provides, book an appointment online or over the phone at Doctors First today.