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How do I Choose the Best Primary Care Practice?

Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 January 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A primary care practice is the first point of contact with the medical profession for patients, and patients will receive treatment for a wide variety of problems from their primary care providers. Since patients will be seeing the care providers at a primary care practice more than any other members of the medical profession, barring the development of a complex medical condition which requires a specialist, it's important to select a practice with care. Once patients find a good practice, they can stick with it, experiencing better continuity of care, which can be an important part of preventing disease and detecting medical problems early.

Many considerations can be involved in the selection of a primary care practice. Patients may want to think about the location and hours of the practice, selecting a practice which will be convenient to visit, and they should also find out about the services offered. Some practices, for example, have an in-house lab and they can collect samples for analysis and testing, or they have an agreement with a lab which allows them to collect samples and send them in, while others will refer patients to a hospital if they need a procedure such as a blood test. Hospital affiliation can also be a consideration.

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Fee structure is another issue to consider. For people on insurance, it's important to find out whether or not a particular practice or provider is covered. People who lack insurance or who have poor insurance coverage may want to find out about the average fees in the practice and what types of payment plans are available. Patients may also want to consider a co-op plan, in which a flat fee is charged annually or monthly for medical services.

In some primary care practices, patients establish a relationship with a specific physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant, while other practices schedule patients with whoever is available. Patients who want a relationship with one practitioner should select a primary care practice in which patients are assigned to a particular doctor. Patients should also research the education and reputation of the practitioners they are likely to see.

Another consideration is the look and feel of a primary care practice. If a patient feels warm and welcome, he or she will be more comfortable going in for treatment. A friendly, helpful staff is an important consideration, as patients will need to work with staff members to get their medical needs met. Patients may also consider with the philosophy of the practice. A primary care practice may focus on wellness and prevention or the management of disease, for example, and it may approach medicine from a holistic perspective or a more conventional one.

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