When you or someone in your family is sick, the last thing you want to worry about is starting from scratch when it comes to your care.
Which is why doing the work beforehand, aka choosing a primary care provider, can make navigating the situation a whole lot easier, according to Sanford Health gynecologist and internal medicine specialist Nicole Cox, D.O.
A primary care provider addresses current health conditions. They also help identify the need for a specialty consultation, said Dr. Cox.
“A primary care provider is essentially the quarterback of your health care team,” she said.
“We also focus on preventative health needs,” she added.
Dr. Cox says ease of communication is an important factor to take into account when choosing a primary care provider.
“The value of having an established relationship with your primary care provider is having the confidence that you have someone that has knowledge of you and your health history and can help assist you in navigating all your health care needs,” she said.
When’s the right time to find a provider?
Sanford Health family medicine specialist Rory Ratzlaff, M.D., said the right time to find a primary care provider is now. No matter how young or old a patient may be.
“They need to have updates on vaccines, and have certain labs drawn. Once the child hits a certain age, yearly visits are sufficient,” he said.
And, seeing a primary care provider is the best way for a patient to prevent and treat diseases and illnesses, he added.
“If someone does not have any chronic medical conditions, being seen and evaluated for preventative diseases are of utmost importance as we are primary care/prevention providers. We help prevent disease from developing or progressing.”
What’s your patient personality?
Regardless of how long it’s been since someone has seen the doctor, the process of finding a primary care provider can be overwhelming.
To make this process easier, Sanford Health has launched a 10-question online quiz that provides individuals with a “patient personality” and recommends providers who fit their unique idea of care. Sanford Health providers answer the same questions.
Patient personalities are:
- Front Runners prefer to be in total control of their health from diet to doctor’s appointments.
- Their proactive nature keeps their health in check, and finding the right provider can keep them a step ahead.
- Auditors desire to research health information and gain a well-rounded view of their options.
- They prefer to make decisions themselves, but finding a provider who listens and collaborates will inform their choices.
- Guidance Takers hold the opinions of their family and friends in high regard.
- They let the busy demands of life push off taking care of their own personal health. They seek a provider who values their time and priorities and can help them succeed.
- Free Spirits have many interests to occupy their time but health is not the highest priority.
- They prefer rapid access to providers when they want it, and they’d like to find a provider who can help them take health matters one step at a time.
To ensure the perfect match, patients can filter providers based on specific qualities or certifications.
Once an ideal match is found, scheduling is easy. A patient can either call, or schedule online.
Dr. Ratzlaff said starting slow is not only perfectly OK, but he encourages it for some patients.
“If someone hasn’t seen a provider for a while, it may be beneficial to set up a few visits to have all concerns addressed.”
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