Find A Doctor

How to Choose a Doctor

Choosing the right doctor is a decision that will affect you, and your family, for quite a while. This guide will help inform you about the choices that are available from typical health plans. We encourage you to consider your options carefully, so you can make the best decision possible.

Advantages Of A Primary Doctor

Your primary care physician is, in a sense, your personal lifeguard. This doctor will oversee all your health care services and provide access to specialists, as needed, to protect your health. Most health plans require you to select one doctor from their network to serve as your primary care physician. There are many advantages to this system of comprehensive medical care:

  • All your medical records are stored in one place.
  • Your treatment will have continuity, with no aspect of it overlooked.
  • Medication interactions are properly supervised.
  • If you need a specialist, you’ll be referred to just the right expert.

Choosing A Doctor Who Fits Your Current Need

Many primary care physicians emphasize special areas of interest in their practice, enabling you to choose a doctor who best meets the needs of your current stage in life.

  • Family Medicine doctors (Family Physicians) offer general family health care for all ages. A Family Physician may be a good choice if you wish to select one doctor for your entire family.
  • Internal Medicine doctors (Internists) provide medical care to adults 18 years and older. Internists are especially effective in treating chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.
  • OB/GYN doctors specialize in obstetrics and gynecology. Their training includes all women’s reproductive issues from childbirth to menopause. (Note: not all plans offer OB/GYN’s as primary care physicians.)
  • Pediatric doctors (Pediatricians) specialize in children’s health care, from infancy through adolescence.

Points To Consider Before You Choose

  1. Find out which doctors are available to you. Ask your health plan or physician group for a copy of their most recent provider directory. And, be sure to find out if you can change doctors later on, if you don’t like the one you’ve selected. If the physician you prefer isn’t available through your current health plan, you might consider changing plans. For more information about finding a physician in your area, call our Physician Referral line at (805) 955-6900.
  2. Choosing a doctor also means choosing a hospital. Doctors are usually affiliated with certain hospitals. If you prefer a particular hospital, check to see which hospital your doctor will admit you to. Your health plan directory should list this information. If not, call the doctor’s office and ask.
  3. Don’t overlook convenience. Your doctor’s office should be located near your home or workplace — whichever is more convenient for you. It’s also a good idea to call or visit the doctor’s office and talk to the doctor’s staff before making a choice. Ask them a few questions such as: “How long does it take to get an appointment?” “Who will I see if my primary care physician is temporarily unavailable?” “Do you offer early morning, evening or weekend hours?”

Planning To Be Healthy

Once you have selected your new doctor, it’s in your best interest to take advantage of any health education programs offered by your health plan or local hospital. You may have access to wellness programs that can teach you how to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Learning how to eat wisely, exercise more or stop smoking can pay big dividends to your overall well-being. Health screenings can also detect early warning signs of illness. Ask if your doctor and hospital offer these types of programs.

To find a physician that meets your particular needs, search our physician database by specialty, gender, languages spoken and location. Or call our Physician Referral line at (805) 955-6900.