Finding the right physician is an important step in achieving and maintaining your health. Lincoln County Medical Center has a group of primary care physicians and specialists who are dedicated to providing you with quality healthcare.
Choosing the right doctor is a very important decision. Today, many people have primary care physicians who serve most of their needs and can refer them to specialists when necessary. Primary care physicians generally include internists, family practitioners, pediatricians and, in some instances, obstetricians and gynecologists.
How do you select a primary care physician, and how do you know if the specialists he or she suggests are the right providers for you? Here are some things to consider when selecting a physician:
- Ask friends and relatives for recommendations. If you are moving and changing physicians, ask your current physician if he or she can refer you to someone in your new community.
- Check with our Physician Referral Line at 636.528.3448.
- Find a physician near you who has admitting privileges at Lincoln County Medical Center by entering your search criteria on the home page.
- Check with your county health department. They will give you the names of several physicians.
- Ask your insurance company, health maintenance organization or managed care plan if they have a panel of physicians from which you should select.
If you've narrowed your list down to several physicians in convenient locations, you may want to meet with a few doctors to determine which doctor is the best fit for your family. Some questions to get you started include:
- What are the office hours? If you work full time, ask if they see patients on Saturdays or evenings.
- Does the doctor have a subspecialty? Depending on your family's needs, find out if the doctor has experience working with children, the elderly, or people with disabilities.
- Is the doctor available over the phone during office hours? If not, is there a nurse who can answer your questions? How quickly are calls typically returned during evening hours or on a weekend or holiday? Does the doctor use e-mail?
- Just in case — who should you call in the middle of the night, on weekends or on holidays in an emergency?
- What hospital(s) does the doctor use? Make sure your doctor works with a hospital near your home.
- If the office is a group practice, will your family see all of the physicians in the group or will you always see the same doctor? Can you choose to see the same doctor?
- What is the doctor's educational background? A doctor's training and experience are very important. Your physician should have graduated from an accredited medical school, but it doesn't have to be a "big name" institution.
- Is the physician board-certified? Many doctors become board certified in a specialty. This means that they complete specialty training and pass formal examinations. While no guarantee of excellence, board certification is one way the average consumer can be certain of a physician's training. Many primary care physicians also are board-certified in specialty areas. To find out if your physician is board-certified, access the American Board of Medical Specialties web site at www.abms.org or call 1-866-275-2267 Patients who would like to check the certification status of a DO can visit the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Web site at www.osteopathic.org or call the Member Service Center at 1-800-621-1773, option 1 on the menu.
Finding a physician who can accommodate your whole family's needs can be a challenge, but the time it takes to research will be worth it.