“I need a new doctor, who do you recommend?” I often get asked this question from patients and friends. Sometimes people are unhappy with their current primary care doctor, sometimes they’ve just retired, or maybe their practice got purchased by a large medical group. I believe your relationship with your primary care physician is a very important part of your overall health and well-being.
With that said, what should you look for in a primary care physician? Interestingly enough, a study was conducted by the Society for Participatory Medicine to see what people look for most when picking a primary care physician. Of the people who were surveyed, here were their top 8 answers and the % of people surveyed who thought this was an important factor. 1. Having a doctor that takes the time to listens to them- 85% 2. Having a doctor that is caring and compassionate- 71% 3. Having a doctor that explains things well- 69% 4. Having convenient and quick access to healthcare- 47% 5. Having pleasant interactions with the staff in the doctor’s office- 41% 6. Being able to discuss cost of care and the necessity of testing and treatment- 29% 7. Ensuring that doctors disclose financial conflicts of interest- 22% 8. Having doctors that offers holistic healthcare options- 8% Our current healthcare system has become more about efficiency and profit margins and less about relationships and patient outcomes. Therefore, whom you select as your doctor, and more importantly WHY you select them is a critical decision, one that should NOT be made lightly. I want a doctor who listens to me, treats me like they would their own son or daughter, does a thorough exam, and selects the best treatment option with the LEAST amount of side effects possible.
Remember the Hippocratic oath that all doctors take, “first do no harm”. Also know that the word “doctor” comes from its Latin derivative “Docere” which means, “to teach”. Are your doctors teaching you, or are they just prescribing drugs and risky treatments? Look for doctors who are more “functional” in their approach, meaning they look for the root cause of your problem or condition, as opposed to just treating the symptoms.
Finally, remember the quote by the great physician Dr. William Osler: “A good physician treats the disease, A great physician treats the patient who has the disease” Best in Health, Dr. Dane