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21 Questions to Ask your New Primary Care Doctor

Time for a new doctor?  Maybe you’ve moved, or your insurance changed, or things just don’t feel right between you and your doctor anymore. It’s important to take the time to find a doctor who has the right qualifications, experience, and fit for your personal needs to ensure you don’t waste any of your precious time or money. Studies have shown that a good doctor patient relationship promotes better health and less overall healthcare spending.

The first visit with my prospective patientslink opens in a new window is free of charge so we can both make sure we are setting ourselves up for success with the doctor, patient relationship. Not every practice does this, but it never hurts to ask.

Asking these questions can help get you started on the right foot:

  1. What are your credentials? How many total years have you been in practice?
  2. Where did you go to medical school?
  3. Are you board-certified?
  4. How many patients are currently in your practice? Do you have a limit of the number of patients you will accept?
  5. Do you offer any unique services like wellness planning, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) pellets, genetic and genomic tests, health coaching, etc.? (Read The Power of Medical Genetic Testing)
  6. Do you have a website? Look for transparent pricing, reviews, doctor bio and services clearly listed.
  7. Do you take my insurance? Do you offer self-pay pricing?
  8. How long do patients typically wait for appointments? Do you make same and next-day appointments for urgent matters?
  9. What are your average wait times?
  10. Do you offer basic lab tests in your office, or will I have to go somewhere else?
  11. Tell me about your after-hours policies. What happens if I have an emergency?
  12. Do you work with a certain hospital?  Will you be involved in my care if I get admitted to a hospital?
  13. Can I call or email you with non-urgent questions?  How long can I expect it to take for you to get back to me?
  14. Is this a group practice? Will I ever see Physician’s Assistant (PA) or Nurse Practitioner (NP) or another doctor?
  15. Can I bring a friend or family member with me to my appointments for a 2nd set of ears?
  16. How do you simplify prescriptions? Do you offer prescription coordination, free delivery or preferred programs?
  17. What level of communication can I expect? Can I speak to the doctor directly when I call in?
  18. How do you feel about patients asking detailed questions? Do you take the time to explain so I can understand?
  19. How do you handle specialist referrals? Can you personally expedite specialists appointments, avoid duplicate orders, etc.?
  20. Will you help me with extra paperwork I may need for supplemental insurance, camp and school forms, etc?  Is there a charge associated with extra paperwork?
  21. Do you have expertise treating my condition?

With the right research your first visit with your new doctor will be the beginning of a healthy relationship.

About the author:
Dr. Lowery is a board-certified family physician with nearly 20 years of experience. He considers himself an old-fashioned family doc who utilizes the latest medical treatments to ensure the most compassionate, personal and high quality medical care. You can learn more about him by visiting his website at opens in a new window. He writes for Combined Insurance in an effort to help educate readers, but his medical opinions and advice are for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for visiting your doctor