Choosing a primary care provider: It’s all ‘about your needs and comfort’
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Going to the doctor can be as routine as getting an oil change or making a call to your family just to check in. Prevention often begins in your primary care office. LMH Health offers a diverse staff of primary care physicians to care for you throughout Lawrence and the surrounding area.
What does a primary care physician do?
Unlike a specialist, a primary care physician takes care of the whole body. There are two types of primary care physicians. Family practice physicians will see you and your family from birth through death. An internal medicine physician cares for patients who are 18 years old and up. Both provide routine procedures such as contraception, flu shots, annual physicals, joint injections, setting broken bones and more.
“The best part about being in primary care is becoming integrated into a family,” said Caitlin Elmore, a family practice physician with Mt. Oread Family Practice. “I am able to help my patients at every step along the way.”
photo by: LMH Health
A primary care physician is a great way to maintain your health while also lowering health care costs. Having a good relationship with your primary care physician can keep you from making trips to an urgent care or the emergency room for minor medical needs such as a fever, open wounds, or other ailments.
“Nobody wants to wait two hours in the ER,” Elmore said. “We have a few same-day appointments for patients. It is important to us that our patients are seen and heard.”
Visiting a primary care physician does not have to be reserved for when you have health issues. You should see a primary care physician at least yearly for a physical and whenever your health care needs change.
Elmore said that it’s important to have a team that is able to follow up after major medical changes to optimize your medications or responses to treatment. If the need arises, your primary care physician will be able to refer you to specialist care (or multiple specialists, if needed) with whom they already have a trusted relationship.
“We facilitate the care for you and get you to the right people, whether that’s another physician, physical or occupational therapist, social worker or another provider,” Elmore said. “Our goal is for you to become the healthiest version of yourself.”
How to select your
primary care physician
Knowing where to start and what to look for in a primary care physician can be daunting. Establishing care can also cause anxiety.
“Establishing care can be a moment of vulnerability,” Elmore said. “In the end, selecting a primary care physician is about your needs and comfort.”
So, how do you select a primary care physician? Elmore shared a few things to keep in mind when choosing.
Family practice vs. internal medicine: When deciding between those two types of physicians, it comes down to the provider you feel most comfortable with. Some people like to go to the same doctor as their children so that they can make two appointments in one day, and some prefer to have a doctor who focuses on adult to end-of-life care.
Location: It is important to think about what distance you are comfortable traveling for care. If there is someone across town that you feel is a better fit and you are willing to make the drive, then that is the correct physician for you.
Preference: It makes sense that you might feel more at ease with a doctor based on gender. Consider if you would be more comfortable sharing your medical history and concerns with someone of the same gender. It is important for you to trust that professional with sensitive information and procedures.
Recommendations: Word of mouth is a great way to narrow down which physician may be best for you. If your family or friends have a doctor that they like, there is a good chance that you will too. Check online to read any reviews or ratings.
Insurance: It is always a good idea to check which physicians and hospitals are in-network with your insurance. You don’t want to end up with out-of-network medical bills.
Physician traits: Before your meet your physician, think about what traits are most important to you. A few traits to keep in mind are:
• Trust: This goes both ways as the patient needs to divulge everything necessary so that the physician can more accurately diagnose conditions.
• Communication and interpersonal skills: Learn more about a provider through video. LMH Health physician videos are available at lmh.org/providers.
• Professionalism and compassion: A patient is more than a list of medical problems and prescriptions.
• Collaboration among providers: Your primary care physician and specialists will work together to create a personalized treatment plan. If they work within the same health care system, they will be able to access and share information with ease.
Compatibility: If you meet someone and don’t feel like you connect, don’t be afraid to try another physician. Physicians are not one-size fits all – and you need to be comfortable with the provider you are seeing.
In the end, selecting a primary care physician comes down to what is best for you. Your physician is here to collaborate with you and make recommendations on the future of your health. A primary care physician is here to support you on your health care journey.
— Kade Han is the social media and digital communications specialist at LMH Health.