Questions to Ask When Choosing a Primary Healthcare Provider

04/14/2022 by Sarah Pena

boy getting bandage on arm
Choosing the right provider for your family could mean a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship!

If you’ve recently moved to a new area, or if you’re simply not satisfied with the healthcare you’re currently receiving, you may be thinking that finding a primary care physician before you become sick is a good idea. And indeed, it is! It’s always easier to ask the right questions and make good decisions regarding your healthcare when you’re feeling great. Waiting until you are sick to seek out a new provider may mean a delay in receiving the treatment and medication you need to get back on your feet. We want to equip you with the right questions to ask when you’re looking for a new doctor’s office, whether or not you choose North Country HealthCare as your primary care provider (although we certainly hope you do!).

The importance of having a primary care doctor

Establishing a good relationship with a primary care physician offers multiple benefits to patients and their families. It’s to your benefit when you develop a working partnership with someone who can become very familiar with you and your family’s particular health conditions and unique healthcare history over time. When you find a primary care doctor you feel comfortable with and with whom you feel understood, it’s much easier to ask questions and discuss personal symptoms that you may not feel comfortable discussing with anyone else.

A primary care provider takes a holistic approach to your overall health, which means they are often focused on prevention of illness rather than waiting until a minor issue turns into a larger one. They can help you stay on top of regular health screenings and can recommend additional screenings as well as other advanced tests, based upon your unique genetic and health history. If you or a family member have a chronic health condition, having a primary care physician in your corner is one of the best ways to ensure that you are receiving expert medical supervision.

Before selecting a primary care doctor, ask these questions

1. What insurances do they accept?

Hands down, this is one of the most important questions to ask when choosing a primary care provider. Even if you’ve heard good things about someone or read great reviews about a specific doctor, if they don’t accept your medical insurance, then you know right away that selecting them as your primary care provider will mean paying out-of-pocket for their services, and for most, this simply isn’t a good long-term plan.

North Country HealthCare’s providers accept many insurance plans. You can view a list of the plans we accept here. We always recommend verifying with your health insurance plan which providers are in network; you can do this by calling the phone number on the back of your insurance card.

2. What type of medical certifications do they have?

There are a number of different certifications that a primary care provider can have. Some of our providers are doctors – either an M.D. (doctor of medicine) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathic medicine). Some people may have a preference as to which type of doctor takes care of them, depending on what kind of care is needed by each specific individual. It’s helpful to know the differences between the two certifications so you and your family can receive services from the type of doctor you prefer.

Some others may prefer to be seen by a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. All the clinicians that practice at North Country HealthCare offer the same high-quality level of care, and all can order prescriptions and lab tests or make referrals to other specialists, as needed. Rest assured, you are in good hands with all the healthcare providers at each of our locations.

3. Is the provider’s work schedule a good fit for you?

Sometimes a doctor will spread their time among several satellite offices. If Mondays work best for you, but your doctor is always working at a satellite office far away from you those days, that doctor may not be a good fit for you unless you want to accept the extra travel time. Some offices close early on Fridays, and other offices may take extended lunch hours. If you can only schedule appointments during these times, you’ll probably want to select another physician whose schedule better coincides with your own.

4. Do they speak your primary language?

Communication between a patient and a physician is very important. When you’re sharing symptoms and other concerns with your doctor, you want to know they have a complete understanding of your health issues. When a doctor is relaying important information such as possible side effects of a drug they want to prescribe for you, or they’re discussing important aspects of one of your or a loved one’s health conditions, it’s important for you to have a good understanding of the discussion.

All of our providers have access to medical translation services, whether in person or over the phone. Some providers may also be bi- or multi-lingual, which can be incredibly comforting to those of us whose primary language is not English. Check our provider list to see which languages our providers speak.

5. Is the office simply a “good fit” for you?

Even if a doctor sounds like a good match for you and you decide to make an appointment, you’ll want to evaluate your first visit with them. During your visit you should consider:

  • Did the physician listen to your concerns, or did they seem impatient?
  • Were they able to explain complex concepts in a simple, understandable format?
  • Did you feel you had enough time to get all your questions answered, or did you feel rushed through the appointment?
  • What about the office staff? Were they able to answer basic questions, or did they simply seem too busy to be of service?

Since a relationship with a primary care provider will hopefully last for years, it’s important that you feel respected, valued and understood. And even though medical staff may come and go over the years, there should be a consistent level of professionalism from all staff members, as they interact with the many patients that come into their organization every day.

The North Country HealthCare difference

At North Country HealthCare, our patients are our highest priority. We believe everyone should have access to affordable, quality primary care in an atmosphere of dignity and respect. Each of our staff members acts with integrity, embracing accountable and transparent principles and practices in each patient interaction. In addition to primary care, we also provide a variety of essential services to the community, including women’s health, behavioral health, dental services and physical therapy. We invite you to learn more about us online or contact us today to schedule a visit with a provider to experience the North Country HealthCare difference firsthand.

Categories: Company News

6 responses to “Questions to Ask When Choosing a Primary Healthcare Provider”

  1. Thank you for explaining that it’s important to ask what insurances they accept. I’ve been wondering what kinds of questions to ask so that I can find a good primary care doctor. I’ll be sure to ask a few clinics around the area this question to narrow down my options.

  2. Thanks for the info about primary healthcare providers. My brother wants to find a new doctor. I’ll share this info with him as he looks for a new primary care doctor.

  3. My wife and I recently moved to a new state, and we need to find a primary healthcare physician that we can take our kids to. It was helpful when you mentioned that it is a good idea to find a primary care physician that will develop a working partnership with you. This makes sense because you would want to find a doctor that truly cares about the health of your family.

  4. My older sister needs to find a primary care provider for her family. Thanks for saying how it is smart to find out the insurances that they accept. I’ll help my sister find a PCP that accepts her insurance.

  5. It’s important to do your research when looking for a new primary care doctor. You want to make sure you find someone who is a good fit for you and your family. I found this blog post about the different types of question for primary healthcare providers and thought it might be helpful for my brother as he looks for a new doctor. Thanks for the informative article!

  6. How great that you explain how to choose a provider and check the atmosphere when you go for your first visit. I am moving to a new area next month and preparing my new services. I will find an excellent primary care provider service in the area next.

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