Receiving comprehensive, quality healthcare has become more challenging during the last few decades. As the healthcare delivery system has evolved to its current model, primary care physicians are seeing more patients per day but spending less time with each individual.
Choosing a primary care doctor is an important decision that can affect seniors' current and future health and quality of life. Industry experts agree that you should find someone you feel comfortable talking with and who is interested in establishing a working doctor-patient relationship with you. A doctor who takes the time to become familiar with you, your medical history, and your concerns can offer continuity in your healthcare that will meet your specific needs.
The National Institute on Aging offers a guide for seniors that outlines how to find a primary care doctor. It is often a good idea to interview a few physicians before selecting one. Here are some questions the NIA recommends that you ask your prospective doctor:
- Do you have many older patients?
- How do you feel about involving my family in care decisions?
- Can I call or email you or your staff when I have questions? Do you charge for telephone or email time?
- What are your thoughts about complementary or alternative medicine?
Other things to consider after meeting with a doctor:
- Did the doctor give me a chance to ask questions?
- Was the doctor really listening to me?
- Could I understand what the doctor was saying? Was I comfortable asking him or her to say it again?
Once you select your primary care doctor and schedule your first appointment, be sure your new physician receives your medical records (either hand-delivered by you, or have them sent from your previous doctor). You should also bring your current medications (in their containers) with you to your appointment.
When it comes to your health, it is all about you. Research your options to find the primary care doctor who will work with you to meet your healthcare needs, now and into the future.