6 Signs It's Time to Find a New Primary Care Doctor
As hard as finding the right primary care doctor can be, leaving the wrong primary care doctor, whether you’ve seen them for one year or 10 years, might be just as difficult.
- Will you have to start all over with a new doctor?
- What if no one you like is accepting new patients?
- How will your medical records get transferred to your new practice?
But you deserve a primary care experience that you love. How do you know when it’s time to start looking for a new doctor? Here are six things to keep an eye out for.
1. You haven’t seen a primary care doctor in a long time.
Maybe you don’t have a primary care doctor. You wouldn’t be alone. It’s estimated that about 25% of the country doesn’t have a PCP.
Maybe you have someone you would still call your PCP, but you haven’t seen them in years. The experience you get at the practice isn’t great. Or maybe you aren’t getting the care you want. It’s just not a priority for you.
It might be a hassle to get an appointment. And every time you are actually sick, the schedule is booked for days. It’s easier to go to an urgent care clinic than to wait a couple of days to get in with your actual primary care doctor.
This one is pretty simple. If you don’t have one, or if you haven’t made seeing your current one a priority, then it’s probably time to look for a new situation.
2. You see your doctor regularly, but they aren’t delivering the care you want.
You understand that seeing your primary care doctor routinely is a good practice. It’s beneficial for your health.
But you just aren’t getting the care you want. Maybe you don’t feel heard, or they don’t have enough time to get the full picture of your problems.
Maybe they’re an old-school doctor and you’re looking for someone with a more cutting-edge approach. Or it’s the opposite, and they’re a cutting-edge doctor that follows all the latest health trends, but you’re looking for more of an old-school approach.
Perhaps they’re a family practice doc and you think an internal medicine approach would be better for your care. We always encourage patients to keep an open mind about this – there are highly qualified physicians in both family practice and internal medicine – but it’s up to each individual patient what works best for you.
The key is that you get the kind of care that you feel comfortable with, that you trust, and that you expect. A match is a match. If you and your current doctor aren’t quite a match, it’s probably time to find someone who is.
3. You see your doctor regularly, but you don’t have a good relationship.
This is something we hear about a lot. Patients have seen the same primary care doctor for years, but they just don’t feel like they have a good relationship with them. Some say it feels like the first time they see them every visit.
This is not necessarily the doctor’s fault. It’s most likely due to the traditional primary care model, which makes it almost impossible for a doctor to maintain relationships with a panel of 3,000-4,000 patients. They just don’t have the time.
For some people, finding a new primary care doctor is not about the ability of the doctor or the care they are receiving, but the experience as a whole. Primary care should be easy. It should be hassle-free. That’s what concierge medicine aims to deliver. If you aren’t getting that at your current practice, it might be time to start looking for a new situation.
4. You’re tired of waiting.
As the Tom Petty song goes, the waiting is the hardest part. For some people, finding a new PCP is 100% about waiting.
They’re tired of waiting days or weeks for an appointment. Then, when it’s time for their appointment, they’re tired of sitting in a lobby for 30 minutes only to sit for another 20 minutes in the exam room, and then only seeing the doctor for about 10 minutes.
They’re also tired of waiting until the next morning for after-hours care. Illnesses don’t just happen during business hours, so why wait until the office officially opens in the morning to get through?
Because of overloaded patient panels, traditional primary care doctors are squeezed into seeing 30-40 patients every day. That’s why there is a lot of waiting in the traditional primary care experience.
The doctor either just doesn’t have an appointment slot open for days, because they have thousands of patients trying to get them, or they are running from appointment to appointment each day because they’re trying to squeeze 30-40 in before the end of business.
If you’re just fed up with the waiting, you should know that there is a solution. Concierge medicine is an alternative to traditional primary care that allows doctors to shrink their panel sizes and eliminate the waiting from the patient experience. You get same-day or next-day sick-care appointments guaranteed, at least 30 minutes with your doctor, and appointments guaranteed to start on time.
5. You (and your family) need more convenience in your life.
For some people, finding a new primary care doctor is just about streamlining their life as much as possible. Bring the whole family’s care under one roof, make scheduling multiple appointments at one location possible, and reap the benefits of getting care for a doctor that knows the ins and outs of your family and your lifestyle.
You deserve a primary care experience that’s optimized for your life. Appointments should be scheduled as soon as possible. You shouldn’t have to sit in a lobby or an exam room. And if you need care on the weekend or in the middle of the night, you should be able to get it.
With all the things going on in your life, you just need your healthcare to be taken care of. You need it to be one less thing to worry about. If that’s not happening at your current primary care doctor, it might be time to look for a new practice, especially one you can bring the whole family to.
6. Your doctor is retiring.
This one is pretty straightforward. Just like with any profession, doctors retire. Since COVID-19, more doctors have decided to switch jobs or retire.
When your doctor hangs up the stethoscope, it can be a troubling development. Along with their retirement go years of institutional medical knowledge about your health history and your family history. It can feel like starting over.
But it’s a fact of life. Most doctors give patients plenty of notice before they hang it up, but some don’t. Some will develop a succession plan within their practice or make a recommendation for someone they trust to take over their practice.
Regardless, it’s a good time to reevaluate your health, what you need, and what kind of care you’re looking for long-term.
Looking for a new primary care doctor? Consider concierge medicine.
If you’ve decided it’s time to look for a new primary care doctor, it might be time to also consider a new model of primary care.
Enter concierge medicine, a primary care model built around you, the patient. Concierge medicine practices charge an upfront membership fee. This allows concierge doctors to reduce the size of their panels, from 3,000-4,000 to 500-600 patients, and enables them to spend more time with each patient and deliver the kind of personalized care you deserve.