A Patient’s Guide to Finding a Good Fit with a New Primary Care Doctor


Managing diabetes can be overwhelming and it can only feel worse if you have to look for a new physician. You might feel anxious about finding a new doctor whether you were just diagnosed with diabetes or your primary care physician decides to retire. There’s a lot to consider, but this guide can help you navigate the switch confidently.

Start with Your Insurance

Insurance plans and policy limits vary widely, so becoming familiar with your plan is crucial. Many insurance plans have limitations on which doctors you can select outside the network.

Most insurers provide an online search tool, directory, or phone support for checking a doctor or clinic’s network status. Once you have a name (or multiple names) that is in-network, contact the office to see if they are accepting patients.

You can also verify that they accept your insurance and confirm expected co-pay amounts for regular visits. The insurance deductible will also impact your total healthcare costs, notes Healthcare.gov, so a complete financial picture is essential.

Ask for Referrals and Recommendations

Though primary care physicians have general knowledge about many conditions, a provider that knows your conditions (if any) will be invaluable. You might even choose between a family medicine versus an internal medicine doctor; compare the options and consult your insurance plan before moving ahead.

Your outgoing physician may be able to recommend a colleague with similar expertise, so be sure to ask! Also, check with friends, family, and online groups or forums for local provider suggestions.

Consider Seeing a Specialist

Though a primary care doctor can be an invaluable support, people with pre-existing conditions may find that a specialist is a better fit for regular healthcare.

For example, patients with diabetes may request a referral to an endocrinologist who specifically treats diabetes. Especially if a primary care physician lacks extensive knowledge about diabetes and its treatment, a specialist might provide more proactive care.

Keep Up with Documentation

Changing physicians might be as simple as asking the office staff to send your records elsewhere. Yet having a copy of your paperwork available helps clear up medical history questions and makes for a smoother first visit.

Instead of maintaining multiple medical files, create one master document with all your health records. With an online PDF page remover, you can select and easily remove certain PDF pages as needed. That way, your records are always up-to-date for your and your care team’s reference.

Read Online Reviews

Choosing a doctor is very different from buying a car or going out to eat, but the concept of online reviews is still relevant. Provider reviews provide insight into the care experience and can offer background on your prospective physician.

You can find doctor ratings and reviews on CareDash, Healthgrades, RateMDs, and more. Your insurance provider or healthcare network may also offer a review site with more information and patient feedback.

Conduct Physician Interviews

While it can be a hassle to change physicians multiple times, ‘interviewing’ doctors is worth the effort to find the best fit. An intake visit often means an introduction to your new doctor and an opportunity to ask questions.

Consider this first visit a trial; arrive prepared and with a list of questions for the care provider. The right physician will support your personal wellness goals and take the time to get to know you and your medical needs.

If it’s not a great fit, you can skip to the next provider on your list.

Boost Your Pre-Appointment Confidence

Talking to a new doctor and their medical staff can be intimidating, especially on your first visit. Remember that healthcare is a partnership between you and your care team and that your doctor is there to help!

Hopkins Medicine recommends preparing for your appointment by writing down questions and concerns. Having an agenda for the appointment instills confidence and keeps you on track with any urgent issues. Checked out these 7 tips on how to speak up at your next doctor appointment.

Bringing a support person can also help you find your footing and build confidence as you advocate for your health.

Finding a new primary care doctor is vital for maintaining good health, even if the transition is tough. By researching and becoming a self-advocate, you’ll find the right care provider to support your health and wellness goals.

Disclaimer. The content, information, and links on this page are intended for informational and educational purposes only, and does NOT constitute any medical professional advice.

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