Finding a good primary care doctor

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Many health insurance plans require you to designate a primary care physician. You want a kind, caring, competent one. But choosing Doctor Right is daunting.

It’s an important choice. Your primary care doctor is critical to your health. Evidence suggests that having a primary care doctor means you’re less likely to die of cancer, heart disease, or a stroke. You’re also less likely to need to go to an emergency room or be admitted to a hospital.

Here are some tips for finding a good doctor:

  • Use your first appointment with any new doctor to make sure you’ll work well together.
  • Did he or she listen without interrupting? Did the doctor ask more than just a checklist of yes/no questions?
  • You want a doctor who also asks for your input. How do you feel about possible treatment options?

Patients who have a strong relationship with their physician not only report greater satisfaction with their care but also better overall health.

And above all, you want a doctor who orders the right tests and prescribes the best possible treatment. Reliable data on those measures are hard to find, although physician report cards are becoming more common. You can go to see whether there’s a report card for your doctor.

You also want a primary care physician you can afford. So call the office to make sure the doctor is in your insurance plan. And find out his or her hospital affiliation. If the hospital is outside your network, you could be hit by a big bill.

Consumer Reports has rated 259 doctor clinics in Wisconsin based on how well they perform in certain essential areas: colon cancer screening, managing diabetes, and treating high blood pressure. Those ratings are available at The data for the project came from the nonprofit Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ).

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  • Maggie

    You make a really good point about using your first visit with a doctor to determine if they will work well with you. In my opinion, choosing a doctor who will actually listen to what you have to say is really important. Although they are the medical professional, they don’t know your body as well as you do. You need to be sure that they use your insight when there is a problem that needs to be diagnosed.

  • Brooke McAvoy

    It is interesting that you suggest to see if the doctor listens. I haven’t thought about this before, but it is definitely important. A good doctor would wait and hear everything you have to say before doing anything about it. Thank you for your helpful tips, I will remember this as I meet with my doctor!

  • Skylar Williams

    I loved what it said in the video. It pointed out just how beneficial a primary care physician can be to our health. They can keep an eye out for the tell-tale signs of serious problems. I also believe that it’s very important you know and get along with the physician. Growing up I had a great physician. I have a lot of memories getting shots in that office. If he was mean, he would have lost us.

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