Questions to Ask Potential Primary Care Physicians


The questions below are designed to help you find the best primary care physician, one who has Leslie's "5 Important Traits" as listed in The No-Mistake Zone, episode 8, "How to Find the ONE."  Put the questions that are most important to you at the top of your list. During your meetings with primary care doctors, ask yourself Am I getting thoughtful answers? Is this someone I feel comfortable with? Trust your gut. 

1. This is someone with whom I have deep trust and chemistry

“Tell me about yourself?”
“I am really empathetic to the fact that it’s become more difficult for doctors to spend enough time with their patients. How have you dealt with this challenge in your own practice?”
“I am looking for someone to be a partner in my wellness. What’s your philosophy on patient care?” 

2. The office is well-organized and I will be seen in a timely fashion

“What’s your availability like?”
“If I become ill during the evenings or weekends, who will I talk to?”
“Do you have a partner who covers for you?” 

3. This Doctor takes Very seriously the art of referring patients to specialists

“How do you assist your patients with getting timely access to specialists?”
“Can you tell me about your referral network?”
“How do you match your patients to the right experts?” 

4. This Doctor understands the importance of coordinating with specialists

“When I see a specialist, how do you coordinate with them?”
“What will you do if I get diagnostic testing done? Does someone call me with the results?”
“How will you and I be in dialogue about my illness once I’m being treated by a specialist?” 

5. S/he is committed to my wellness goals and objectives

“What systems do you have in place to ensure that I’m getting the proper early-detection and prevention tests?”
“How long is a typical physical exam, and what is the process like? Are there any additional tests I would need based on my age, gender, and medical background?”
“I’ve had a lifelong battle with [weight/tobacco/exercise/?]. My hope is to find a doctor who can help me in that battle.” 

You may have noticed that this last question isn't really a question at all. Just state your goal, and listen. See if the doctor picks up on your concerns and demonstrates that this is an area they can help you develop a plan of action.

For more detailed information on finding doctors, plus advice from top physicians on how to get better care and attention, read Part I. How to Be Prepared, of The Patient's Playbook.

• Click here to go back to episode 8, "How to Find the ONE"