Establishing a Medical Home Close to Home
Key Things to Consider When Choosing a Primary Care Practitioner
Walk-in clinics can be helpful when we face a sudden medical need, but in the long-term we all need a "medical home." An ongoing relationship with a primary care provider brings consistency to your care and facilitates follow-ups and routine wellness visits.
Establishing your medical home is similar to deciding where to live. When we choose our housing and who to share it with, we consider our safety, lifestyle goals, comfort, and happiness. It is an individual decision, with no universal "right choice" for everyone.
"As a physician," reflects Dr. Gretchen Hodgdon, Bassett's division chief of internal medicine and primary care, "I want my patients to feel comfortable and safe. I want them to be able to easily make appointments when they need them. I want all their health-related needs addressed. So I encourage everyone to choose a medical home with care and consideration. It is an investment in your health."
Here are some important points to consider when choosing a primary care practitioner and a medical home:
Choose a medical home that is easily accessible to you. Minimize how much taking care of yourself conflicts with your schedule and all the other pieces of your life.
- Consider: Is it better to find a facility that is close to your home or to where you work? Does a clinic's hours mesh with your work and personal schedules? Will a longer drive make you less likely to make important wellness visits?
Good medical care requires vulnerability. Our caregivers hear about our personal lives, know about our private health, join us on our worst days, and advise us on important decisions. You don't want social discomfort to hinder your medical care.
- Consider: Are there issues you feel better discussing with a male or female doctor? Do you feel more or less at ease with caregivers you know personally? Who are you willing to accept advice from? Are there religious, cultural or identity needs you want your caregivers to understand?
You want easy communication between you and your caregivers. Choose a team that can provide and receive information in a way that fits your personality and preferences.
- Consider: How do you like to have information presented? Do you like extra time to talk through concerns, or do you prefer streamlined visits? What helps you open up to talk about tough subjects?
Chronic conditions and life choices are an important part of our care. We see specialists to address those needs directly, but a primary care provider also works as a team with your specialist so your health needs and best choices can be considered in other ways.
- Consider: Are there conditions or family histories that you want your doctor to understand? Are you hoping to have a baby someday? Would it be helpful to see someone with a background in sports medicine? Do you have specific dietary needs?
We often share our medical home with our family. How do their needs influence your own?
- Consider: Do you want to see a family practitioner you can share with your children? Are there advantages to visiting the same practice as your aging parents?
Always remember that doctors, advanced practice clinicians, nurses, and clinic staff are professionals whose priority is your care. If you find one of your needs above isn't well met, they can help make things right. After all, you are ultimately the most important member of your care team.