How to Find a Primary Care Provider
Finding a Primary Care Provider (PCP) you trust, have rapport with, who has reasonable appointment wait times, and is close to home or work can be difficult, especially if you are new to the area. Here are some tips for finding a PCP who meets your most important criteria.
- Make a list of what is important to you. Maybe you want a provider close to work, or close to home. Do you prefer male or female? Maybe what is most important to you is that you feel respected and “heard”. Think about previous experiences with medical staff – what qualities have left you feeling cared for, and what qualities left you underwhelmed? You may also want to consider what type of provider you prefer. A PCP could be Family Practice or Internal Medicine; an M.D. (Doctor of Medicine), D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), ARNP (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner), or PA (Physician Assistant). These are all qualified primary care providers for adults. A quick google search of each designation should give you an overview of the differences so you can decide what is best for you.
- Ask a co-worker, neighbor, or friend for a recommendation. While this doesn’t guarantee that the physician will be best for you – personal recommendations are a good starting point. Keep your priorities in mind and don't be shy about asking for information related to those items.
- Find out which Provides are in-network. If you’re on the Manatee YourChoice Health Plan, you’ll go to manateeyourchoice.com and click on “Provider Directory” to find a provider in the Aetna Choice POS II Open Access network. You can filter by location, gender, hospital affiliation, and language spoken.
- Narrow down your list of potential PCP’s. By making a list of recommendations and comparing it to the list you generated in the provider search, you should be able to narrow your potential PCPs to 4 or 5 for further research.
- Consider performing a google search of your top providers. Can you learn anything about the office staff or appointment availability by reading reviews? Can you find anything about the doctor’s reputation or bedside manner? While these are people’s opinions only and your experience could be different, it may provide helpful information. If friendliness of staff and ease of getting an appointment are important but you can’t find information online, consider calling the doctor’s office and asking how long the wait is for a new patient to get an appointment, and typical timeline for an established patient to get an appointment. How friendly was the person who answered the phone and how did you feel about the timeframe provided?
- If you’re still unsure, call our nurse line at 941.741.2963 for additional assistance.
- Once you find a Provider, let them know that you are with the County’s YourChoice Health Plan. Many local providers are aware of the resources we provide that may be able to assist in their treatment plan, but they may not be aware that you are on the YourChoice Health Plan unless you tell them (health plan info is typically handled by the office staff, not the medical staff).
- If you select a Provider and decide later that s/he is not for you, you can always choose a different PCP. However, nobody is perfect, so if your area of concern is something that can be improved upon, speak up! For example, let the doctor know if a staff member was rude to you. Or, if you feel like your doctor isn’t being clear, ask him or her to explain in a way that you can understand. Be an advocate for yourself – it will allow you to build a positive relationship with your PCP, which ultimately leads to better health care.