There are multiple factors to consider when choosing a family care provider for your loved ones and yourself. After all, you would want to look for someone who meets your family’s diverse and growing care requirements. According to the HRSA (U.S. Department of Health Resources and Services Administration), there will be at least 220,800 primary care providers delivering services to multiple families by the end of 2021. Meaning, you will have plenty of options to choose from.
However, don’t leave the decision of choosing a PCP down to when there’s an emergency, and you’re short on time. Instead, take a moment to review your choices and vet out the practitioners you’ve shortlisted. Never forget that your decision will affect your family’s long-term care. So you should only consider the best option you can afford. That said, we’ve listed a few things you should consider before pinning your options.
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Make a list of characteristics and skills you’re looking for
Before you take to the internet and search for PCPs in your neighborhood, it is essential to set standards for the kind of health plan and services you expect. So, think through a few ideas and questions like; do you prefer a male or a female primary care provider? How long will it take to travel to their location? What type of care are you looking for?
While these questions aren’t comprehensive, finding answers will allow you to narrow down your options.
Nurses or Doctors?
While the obvious choice may be to hire a doctor as your PCP, a Family Nurse Practitioner may also suffice. RNs who specialize in family care by pursuing and completing online MSN FNP programs alongside work are perfectly capable of performing primary diagnoses for your kin. So you do not have to restrict your options. These flexible learning opportunities enable nurses to skill up and work as independent care providers after acquiring licensure.
Contact your healthcare insurance provider
Sometimes, it is wise to contact your health insurance provider and ask what primary care providers are available in your insurance plan before deciding. Chances are they might already have a list of potential PCPs in your local area that you can hire. That said, there are two common types of healthcare insurance plans; PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) and HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) plans.
An HMO plan requires that you have a PCP to manage your case. On the other hand, you don’t need one if you’re covered under a PPO plan. Furthermore, Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans operate in the same way as HMO and PPO plans. However, they are only available to individuals who are 65 years and above. So, don’t hesitate and get in touch with your health insurance provider to learn more about your options.
Ask your friends and coworkers for recommendations
Chances are your friends and coworkers might already have a primary care provider attending to their family’s needs. So, when searching, ask your friends and coworkers if they can recommend anyone close by.
Furthermore, ask them to share their negative and positive experiences with primary care providers they’ve visited in the past. It would be wise not to forget to do your research. After all, you would want to perform a background check on your shortlisted choices before making an appointment.
Consider the travel route and time
Probably one of the most crucial factors when zeroing in on your options is the amount of time it takes to reach their clinic. Identify how far it is from your home/office. Is it in a metropolitan or suburban area? If the clinic is two hours away from your house, traveling for frequent physical examinations will turn out to be a tiring experience for you and your family. Besides, what’s the point if you can’t reach on time in the event of an emergency? Hence we STRONGLY recommend choosing someone who practices close to home.
An easy way to determine the distance and time it takes to travel to and from the PCP’s clinic is by entering the address into your GPS. While some PCP’s include patient transportation as a benefit in the care package, ensure that you ask about this before deciding.
Ask about their availability
Medical emergencies strike without prior notice. If you choose a primary care provider that is only available six hours a day from Mondays till Fridays, you might face some difficulties getting help. So, ensure that the doctor/nurse can be easily contacted at all times. Furthermore, check whether they have a well-established line of communication or a 24-hour on-call service in the event of a medical emergency.
If the primary care provider isn’t available themselves, they should at least have someone to assist you and your family’s healthcare needs. So, ensure that the primary care provider you go for offers you emergency service response for any time of the day, be it during the day or the middle of the night.
Don’t forget to consider your liabilities
It would be best not to forget the possible ramifications and liabilities of hiring a private primary care provider. These might include personal liability, worker’s compensation, taxes, training, and much more. For example, if you’re hiring a PCP through an employment agency or nurse registry, your PCP might end up being your employee.
In that case, you might be liable for their tax payments and other obligations. On the other hand, fully licensed privately practicing PCPs offer more protections and a list of comprehensive services when employed by the caregiver.
Families have growing healthcare needs. Therefore, it is necessary to have a PCP on your speed dial if some help is required. This article mentions a few tips that can help you narrow down your options and select a primary care provider who best suits your family’s needs. For starters, list down what type of help your family is looking for. You do not have to limit yourself to hiring a doctor.
Gather as much info as you can from your insurance provider and friends and family. It would be wise to do your research and run through background checks. Last but not least, consider the time it takes to get to their clinic. By adhering to these tips, you’ll be able to make an intelligent choice.
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