How to Choose a Primary Health Provider

Dr. Alisahah Jackson

Every woman deserves to have a primary care provider (PCP) she can trust. As your partner in preventive care, a PCP can help you maintain your health over time and identify health concerns before they become big problems.

Here are a few important considerations to explore in choosing a provider. 

Connection. You deserve to have a provider that you connect with and trust.  Do not feel obligated to stick with the first provider you see.  This is one of the most important relationships you can build in your lifetime, so take the time to find a provider who “gets you.”

Availability. What’s going to work best for your schedule? Do you need a provider who offers extended (early or late) hours? Check the practice hours to help determine if a provider has the flexibility you need. 

Female vs. male. A provider’s gender might matter to you. And It’s OK if you prefer a female provider. After all, if you aren’t comfortable with your provider, you might be less inclined to share what’s really going on or keep up with your check-ups. Plus, honest communication is essential. 

Your medical conditions. If you are generally healthy with no significant conditions, a women’s health provider is a great option. However, if you have any chronic conditions, you may want to consider a family medicine or internal medicine provider. 

Range of services. A typical family medicine provider can cover your essential health care needs, and it’s important for women to consider a provider who offers holistic care that addresses your physical health as well as psychological and socio-environmental factors that also play a role in your overall wellness. Even though you may not feel you need them at the moment, having a provider who offers behavioral health resources can be critically important when the need arises.

Virtual care. Virtual health is now considered part of routine primary care, which affords women more flexibility — especially if your schedule doesn’t typically allow for an office visit during the day. While some issues or tests necessitate an in-office visit, virtual appointments may be more conducive to your lifestyle when practical. 

Ratings. While Yelp may be OK for finding a restaurant, it shouldn’t be your go-to site for PCP reviews. That said, there are reputable provider evaluation sites that can provide a more accurate picture. Check out your potential provider’s ratings, starting with their health system (if the provider is employed by one). The health system typically provides trustworthy ratings because they reflect a standardized survey that patients complete after their visit. Health Grades, Vitals and Doximity are also great options for ratings and reviews.

As women, we tend to take care of everyone else in our lives first. But your personal health is critically important, and it’s worth putting at the top of your priority list. Finding a provider you trust can be a great way to reclaim your focus on your health.