The Doctor is In: How to choose a family-practice physician

Selecting a family-practice physician is one of the most important decisions you can make for your own health and that of your family’s. Family-practice physicians see children and adults for both “well” and “sick” visits.


Well visits include appointments for annual physical examinations, routine health screenings, and preventive medical care. These types of visits allow your doctor to get to know your medical history, learn about your personal and family risk factors for common diseases, identify potential health problems at an early stage, and counsel you on making healthy lifestyle choices.


Sick visits are made when you come down with the flu, a cold, or symptoms of other non-emergency illnesses. Family-practice physicians also can manage the care of people who have asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic health conditions. We also provide flu shots and age-appropriate vaccinations for children – and we can arrange for referrals to specialists or for diagnostic testing when a serious disease such as cancer or heart disease may be suspected.


Your family-practice physician is an important partner in your health care throughout your life, so it is important to choose a doctor who makes you feel comfortable, answers your questions fully, treats you with respect and compassion, and gives you the time and attention you need. Other factors to consider are the location of the doctor’s office, if the physician is in private practice or part of a medical group, if the physician has earned national certification from a medical board, the office hours and insurance plans accepted. Some people also consider a physician’s gender or languages spoken in the office when choosing a family-practice physician.


If you are insured by a health maintenance organization or a preferred provider organization, you will be asked to select your doctor from a list of approved health care providers. If you have a traditional health insurance plan, you may have more options of physicians who practice in the community. To help narrow down your selection, asking relatives, friends, coworkers or neighbors for a recommendation is one of the best ways to find a family-practice physician who is a good match for you and your family’s specific needs.


In addition, many hospitals have free physician referral services or searchable online physician directories, which can connect you with providers who are appointed to the hospital’s medical staff. Another good place to research a potential family physician is on the Internet, where you can find out, at a minimum, what degrees and certifications the physician has earned. Web sites such as www.HealthGrades.com allow you to search for a doctor in your area and read patient-experience ratings.


The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that most healthy adults see their family-practice physician once a year for a wellness examination and preventive services such as blood pressure readings, cholesterol screenings, weight and height checks, and lifestyle counseling. Children should be taken for vaccinations and regular examinations to make sure they are developing properly. The AAFP website includes a recommended immunization schedule for infants and children up to age 6.


In addition, if you or someone you know needs financial assistance for any medicines prescribed by your family-practice physician, visit the Partnership for Prescription Assistance Web site. The PPA is a single point of access to more than 475 public and private programs for free or reduced-cost prescription medicines.


* Joshua Feinberg, D.O., is a family medicine physician in practice at the Crozer Health Pavilion, 145 Brinton Lake Road, Suite 201, Glen Mills, PA 19342, 610-459-1619.

About Crozer Keystone Staff

Crozer-Keystone Health System’s physicians, specialists and advanced practitioners are committed to improving the health of our community through patient-centered, quality care across a full continuum of health services. Crozer Brinton Lake is Crozer-Keystone’s comprehensive outpatient care facility in western Delaware County, offering primary care, specialty services, outpatient surgery and advanced cancer treatment. Contact us: 300 Evergreen Drive, Glen Mills, PA 19342 http://www.crozerkeystone.org/Brinton-Lake 1-855-254-7425

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