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6 Errors of Choosing a Family Physician

Mother holding son with a primary care physician in the background

Being a vital part of your healthcare routine, your primary care doctor is how you receive the treatment and assistance you need. Whether its for routine check-ups, diagnosis, or consultations and treatments – your family doctor is the go-to person to advocate for your general health.

Finding the right members of your healthcare team can be difficult, especially when it comes to quality physician patient interaction, navigating the complex healthcare system, and discovering affordable treatment options. 

Don’t make the same healthcare mistakes others have made when choosing a primary care doctor and get the treatment and service you deserve. No more getting rushed out of an appointment or waiting hours to speak with your doctor. 

Let’s walk through the most common errors...

Avoid These Mistakes to Ensure Quality Physician Patient Interaction at Every Medical Visit:

1 - Not Conducting Adequate Research – including consulting with friends or family or not checking out credible rating sites.

When you are unhappy with your current family doctor, but feel guilty for leaving or don’t know where to start in your quest to find the right one, it can be difficult and overwhelming. Chances are you will turn to the people you trust most and see what they have to say about their current primary care physician or even complete a quick search on the internet.

Word-of-mouth referrals and opinions are very powerful, as your friends and families are going to express openly and honestly about their personal healthcare experience. Although they will tell you every detail including the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of it all -- it is important to note their favorite physician might not work for you. And that’s okay, as there is no harm in checking them out. A physician patient relationship is different for everyone. 

Online research including doctor rating sites, can be misinformative as you often don’t get the entire picture. Know that reviews can be deceiving or possibly fake, and take them for what they are. 

Alone, one of these strategies may not be enough, but combining the recommendations from those you love and conducting your own research online might be helpful in determining which primary care physician is right for you – if nothing else, it will help you narrow down the possibilities.

2 – Not Completing an In-Person Visit.

Professional medical doctor consulting with female patient in office, encouraging physician patient interaction

Preferences in compatibility differ depending on personal expectations. How will you know if a family doctor is a good fit if you’ve never meet them? Although you care most about finding a doctor with the experience and credentials to keep you and your family safe, you also want to make sure your experience at every doctor’s visit is pleasant. You shouldn’t feel so rushed that you assume the office only cares about addressing the immediate issue at hand, but instead that your doctor cares about your overall health and wellness.

The importance of doctor-patient communication is to speak up and have a say in your healthcare. You should be comfortable enough to express your concerns, ask questions, and discuss your symptoms. Having direct communication with your doctor, engaging in conversation regularly,  and improving your physician patient interaction, will help you to build a stronger relationship that you feel comfortable leaning on when necessary. Patient communication in healthcare affects the quality of service and success of your diagnosis, treatment, and overall care.

An in-person visit also provides insight into the facility, staff, and daily operations within the clinic. Observe how the physician’s assistants, nurses, and reception staff are as you walk into the clinic. Evaluate the condition of the facility. What about the response time when it comes to the phone calls and patient inquiries? Are same-day appointment scheduling services available?

If you are still on the fence about which primary care doctor to select, consider asking health care professionals you know or already go to about their opinions and recommendations within the area.

Another aspect to consider when participating in an in-person visit is the location and convenience of the practice. Find a clinic that is convenient and easy to access. You will find this helpful when you are sick and don’t want to drive a long distance or when you want fast help during an emergency. 

Ultimately, your gut will help you decide if it is a good fit or not.

3 – Using your Insurance Company’s Network Directory.

Flat lay of health insurance application form with calculator and stethoscope

Randomly selecting a doctor off of your insurance company’s network through a directory can seem helpful, but there are alternative incentives for every doctor who appears on the list. Contracts are issued to the physicians, increasing their benefit packages and increasing costs to you.

Limiting yourself to only your insurance company’s network might be excluding the offices that work more independently of insurance so that they can focus less on bureaucracy and more on their patients.

With alternative incentives, patients don’t necessarily come first, because it’s all about the money. Find a primary care physician who makes you a priority and wants what’s best for you and your health regardless of what insurance companies offer them.

Finding a good primary care physician can be difficult, but it can become more difficult when limited to which plan you have and if they are located in the same area as you. Make sure you are keeping your options open and keeping insurance deals in mind!

4 – Selecting a Non-Doctor — such as a chiropractor, naturopathic doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner instead of a primary care physician.

Doctors making referrals and discussing test results with patients in a hospital clinic waiting area

Although the roles and treatment of other medical professionals can seem similar to your primary care doctor, the training and education for a chiropractor, naturopathic doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner it is not the same. This does not discredit their experience or role in your healthcare, but it should not replace your go-to doctor.

Training, board certification, hospital affiliation, and education matter when it comes to selecting a primary care physician. Depending on the type of physician and their specialty, it could increase costs associated with treatment and still leave you without the solution you needed.

All of these medical-related positions serve a purpose and can be of great use depending on if and when you need their assistance. However, they are not qualified to give general practice advice. You should feel confident in your family physician knowing they have the highest level of expertise, education, and training to assist you in making general practice decisions.

Technological advancements have increased the ability to access your family doctor, even if they are not in the same geographical location as you. Telemedicine is a term describing the ability to meet with a medical professional via chat or video to address immediate needs from wherever you are. This way, you don’t have to settle for an alternate doctor or physician you don’t trust when you are unable to reach your typical family physician.

5 – Being Referred to All Additional Services

A primary care doctor should, for the most part, be a one-stop shop – meaning when you go to the doctor, you receive all the help you need. Every treatment plan looks different, whether it be establishing small health goals to meet consistently, receiving vaccinations, or receiving the prescribed medication to clear up your symptoms. Your primary care doctor should be able to diagnose and treat the majority of symptoms, pains, or problems on their own.  

If you are consistently being referred to other providers for basic procedures or symptoms, this should be a red flag that you need to find a new family medicine doctor. 

Second opinions or consultations are not to be confused with referrals, as you still have one primary care physician and just want to make sure the treatment or procedure is the right step forward.

6 – Picking a Worn-Out Doctor Who is Overwhelmed and Doesn’t Care.

Older male doctor writing a prescription for male patient at a clinic

Personality and bedside manner make a big difference in finding a primary care doctor you feel comfortable around. If your doctor doesn’t show interest in you or try to get to know you, then consider switching to someone who does.

Small talk is not just to make conversation, but so that a doctor can discover underlying symptoms or better understand your lifestyle, mental health, or overall well-being. Specific questions might provide insight into depression, anxiety, health routines, limitations, allergies, etc.

Confirm you are on the same page as your doctor throughout your scheduled interactions. Your healthcare should be a collaborative effort and involve open communication. You want a doctor who will listen and answer your questions thoroughly and who values a lot of physician patient interaction.

In the end, you should find a doctor who you can build a long-term relationship with and wants to understand your medical background. You need a physician who can help you navigate and understand the difficult healthcare system. 

Don’t be afraid to try different doctors until you find the right fit. After all, your primary care physician should be your advocate when it comes to your health and general wellness. 

Elevated Health in Huntington Beach– A Direct Primary Care Provider

If you want to avoid making the same mistakes so many other patients have when selecting a primary care physician, consider becoming part of the Elevated Health family. By reinventing the traditional healthcare model, we provide direct primary care and the highest quality services. 

That means that as a part of our DPC family, you are invited to visit your doctor whenever and wherever you need to in order to feel confident in your family’s continual wellness plan. With extended visits and 24/7 access to medical communication, our main goal is to provide top quality medical care with the best patient physician relationships.

Discover a personal and affordable way to healthcare. We encourage meeting in-person with your family medicine doctor regularly, removing complex insurance company billing and processes, and making overall health and wellness top priority.

Here at Elevated Health in Huntington Beach, California, we value strong physician patient interaction above all, working to align our medical approach with your personal health needs. We understand your health is your greatest asset and want you to live a happier and healthier life through receiving the assistance and guidance you deserve. You can text or call us anytime at 714-916-5210 in order to line up a free meet and greet with one of our amazing physicians. 

Join Elevated Health of Huntington Beach Today!

Matthew Abinante, a board-certified family physician

About the Author

Matthew Abinante is a board-certified family physician providing direct primary care to patients of all ages. Offering excellent care, diagnosis, and techniques, he continually participates in educational opportunities to best serve his patients. Working in Huntington Beach, he analyzes common aches and pains, proposes innovative treatment plans, and provides specialized services for each individual patient. 

After excelling for years, Matthew received his DO and MPH from Touro University in Vallejo, CA. Matthew completed his residency training at PIH Health Hospital in Downey, CA, where he became a board-certified and trusted family physician who values patient-doctor relationships and clear communication.