A primary care physician (PCP) is a healthcare service provider who practices general medicine and is trained to prevent, diagnose, and treat an array of illnesses and injuries. These medical professionals are said to be the first point of contact in your healthcare needs. A PCP not only advises you, educates you, examines you, and treats you, but they also help you to take an insight into making some of the most important decisions about your health and well-being. 

In this article, we will help you to recognize 5 prime factors that we must keep in mind while choosing a primary care physician. But, before that let us understand the role of a ‘PCP and why an online PCP is so much in demand today. Read on…

Role of a Primary Care Physician in Healthcare

A PCP provides comprehensive care by addressing both chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol, as well as acute conditions such as common cold, allergies, flu, infections, and different type of aches or pain to name a few.  S/he thus plays a vital role in preventing unseen future health conditions that might put your well-being in jeopardy.

To be precise, a PCP assists you with the following healthcare needs:

  • Identify and treat common medical conditions
  • Maintain your health history
  • Detect allergies
  • Annual wellness check-up
  • Provide preventive care
  • Help in the management of medications and writing prescriptions
  • Conduct routine diagnostic screenings
  • Analyze lab results
  • Make referrals to medical specialists when necessary
  • Plan for your immunization needs
  • Counsel you in developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle

You can consult a PCP either through an in-clinic visit or through an online consultation per your convenience and preferences. There are many telemedicine platforms like Ask a Doctor 24x7, where you can consult certified medical doctors and get your health queries resolved in minutes.

5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Primary Care Physician

If you are looking for one of the best PCP (whether an online practitioner or an offline consultant) then you must:

1. Check for their certification and areas of expertise:

One can choose a primary healthcare physician according to their respective healthcare needs. Make sure to verify the doctor’s medical experience certification such as his/her board-issued license and specialization. There are different types of doctors who are identified as primary care physicians per their area of expertise. So choose the one per their specialization and your needs. Some of the PCPs' areas of specialization include:

  • Family Practice Doctor or Physician: Patients of all ages can consult for varied conditions.
  • Internal Medicine Consultant: Adults can consult for varied internal body and related conditions.
  • Geriatrics: Older adults with medical needs related to aging can consult.
  • Gynecologist: Women dealing particularly with feminine health issues, particularly of childbearing age can consult
  • Pediatricians: S/he is a primary care physician for newborns, infants, and children. 

2. Ask for recommendations from family or friends: 

Consult with the people (family/friends/coworkers/neighbors) whom you trust for their PCP referrals. Online review sites can show doctors’ ratings and can help you get a sense of a doctor’s personality and policies to make a wise selection. 

3. Select a PCP from In-network doctors for insurance purposes:

Once you've thought of a few names, log in to the website of your insurance carrier and check if the doctor/service provider clinic is covered by your insurance. It is important to choose an "in-network" doctor to prevent a surprise "out-of-network" fee or having to pay the full amount out of pocket.   

4. Verify the advisor’s location, office hours, and language of communication:

Although you shouldn't choose a doctor solely based on location, it is something to think about. If you work for a 9 to 5 job then look for a doctor that provides evening or weekend office hours. Before scheduling an appointment also check what languages the doctor is fluent in for proper communication.

5. Look for a doctor that provides hybrid care: 

Post the COVID pandemic, telehealth continues to be a mainstream healthcare service. Nowadays, many doctors connect with their patients via email or an online portal, which may be another factor that tech-savvy communicators consider when choosing a doctor.   

Why Millennials are Choosing Telehealth Care Over In-Clinic Visits 

For ages, most of us have typically received healthcare through face-to-face consultations with our doctors. However, the expansion of electronic communication and electronic health records (EHRs) provide alternative means for patients and physicians to interact. 
Digital consultation or telehealth programs connect doctors and patients either on video, audio, or question-answer format in which patients can consult from the safe environment of the home without any trouble of travel.  

Several advantages of choosing online healthcare services are as follows: 

  • It facilitates healthcare available to all, regardless of their location. 
  • It saves patients’ time and expense of visits
  • It is safe to consult doctors for infectious diseases and helps to prevent social transmission
  • It provides digital prescriptions and free follow-ups; just like the clinic consultations
  • It is accessible round the clock and provides advice in minutes, per the patients’ convenience

Your PCP makes a significant impact on your health. People who have primary care providers report much better overall health outcomes and are more likely to receive preventive services, including cancer screenings.

How to Prepare for a Doctor's Appointment

Whether online or in-clinic, when your appointment with your primary care physician gets scheduled, make sure to prepare yourself with the following checklist before you join your doctor for consultation:

  • Prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor
  • Bring a list of your current medications and supplements
  • Prepare a list of your problems and current symptoms to discuss with your doctor
  • Tell your doctor about any allergies and past surgeries, if any

If you are looking for a reliable tele-healthcare service provider, visit Ask a Doctor 24x7 – an online consultation platform with over 18000+ doctors from 80 + specialties, available 24x7 to answer your health concerns any time per your convenience. You can take either a video or audio consultation, or you can also ask your health queries to a doctor through a Q&A platform and get medical advice in minutes. Consult a PCP of your choice of specialty on all health-related matters at Ask a Doctor 24x7

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About the Author

Dr. Shweta Khanna

Shweta Khanna is a dental surgeon who has experience in dentistry for more than 13 years. She has been writing innovative medical and healthcare content for the past eight years. She has authored various medical blogs/articles related to dentistry, orthopedics, dermatology, women's health, consumer health articles, and research articles (basic and clinical).

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