Whether you’re signing up for new health insurance through work, you recently moved or you are expanding your family, choosing a doctor can feel like a challenge.
Choosing a primary care doctor is one of the most important health care decisions you will make. They are the equivalent of your medical “home base.” This is your personal care provider, who is familiar with your health history and coordinates all your health care needs. Your primary care doctor will refer you to appropriate specialists and keep in contact with your specialists to ensure continuity of your care.
Nurses like Cheryl Zimmerman, with the 1-800-82-SHARP physician referral service, help patients understand their choices and identify the most important factors in choosing a doctor for themselves and their families.
“It really does ‘take a village’ when it comes to your health care — your primary care physician, specialists and you working together to ensure you achieve optimal health,” says Zimmerman. “We’re here to help you find someone who is a good match for you and your family.”
According to Zimmerman, these are the seven most common factors in choosing a primary care doctor:
Do you want your doctor to be located near your home or work
- Insurance plan
Does your insurance plan require an in-network doctor?
Are you more comfortable with a male or female doctor?
Do you need a doctor that speaks a language other than English?
Do you have a preference between a doctor with many years of experience or a doctor with more recent medical school knowledge?
- Hospital affiliation
Is it important which hospital you may be admitted to if the need arises?
- Practice style
Are you looking for a doctor with a particular philosophy of healing?
The nurses of 82-Sharp are the first point of contact for many patients, although doctor referrals aren’t the only calls they take.
“A caller may want to know something very specific — whether a doctor is certified to do an FAA flight physical or if they offer weekend appointments,” she says. “Regardless of the reason they call, we listen closely to their needs and strive to match them to a doctor who can help them achieve their best health.”