Choosing a Primary Care Physician

At Mercy, our goal is to keep you and your family healthy and happy.

When you choose a Mercy primary care physician (PCP), you’re not just getting one care provider, you’re getting access to a broad range of health services and a team of experts focused on the health of you and your family.

Many factors go into choosing the right primary care provider. Here, we answer some common questions to help you make an informed decision.

What is a Primary Care Physician?

Your Mercy primary care physician plays a key role in your family’s health. As the coach, or leader, of your care team, your physician partners with care team members to make sure you’re getting the right care at the right time.

Why Choose a Primary Care Physician?

Developing an ongoing relationship with a PCP can lead to a number of health benefits, including:

More accurate diagnosis – By seeing you on a regular basis, your PCP is more likely to recognize changes in your overall health and make an accurate  diagnosis.

Lower costs – Regular visits to your physician, especially when health concerns arise, can mean fewer visits to the ER and lower medical expenses.

Referral to specialists – If you have an illness or condition that requires more specialized care your PCP can refer you to the proper specialist.

Your primary care physician will be your main contact for:

  • Checkups
  • Vaccinations
  • Annual physical exams
  • School and sports physicals
  • Diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and injuries
  • Management of chronic conditions

Preventive care is the key to staying ahead of illness and other health problems. Actively involving a health care professional supports continued good health and comprehensive prevention. Follow these tips to stay healthy and set a comprehensive preventative screening guide.

What Should I Look for When Choosing a Primary Care Physician?

The relationship you form with your Mercy primary care physician can last for many years. Selecting the right physician for you and your family is one you want to treat with care.

At Mercy, we believe an excellent primary care physician is someone who takes the time to:

  • Listen
  • Discuss your concerns
  • Carefully review your treatment options
  • Keep you and your family on track with regular screenings and immunizations

When you’re ready to start, review your health care plan details.  This information should include a list of physicians who participate in your plan. Other details are usually included, such as areas of specialization, such as caring for certain age groups.

Another great resource is your friends and family. Ask questions, and get their recommendations. Word-of-mouth referrals are a good way to find out more about a physician. This can help you decide what qualities are important to you, and who might be a good match. You can also contact the physician’s practice directly to ask a care team member specific questions.

Other items to consider include:

  • Do you prefer a PCP closer to your home or work?
  • How easy is it to reach the physician directly? Do they use email or prefer phone calls?
  • Does the physician offer electronic consults (e-visits)?
  • Does the physician have an online video where you can learn more about their style, values or approach to care?
  • Does the physician order a lot of tests? Why or why not?
  • Does the physician refer to other specialists frequently or infrequently?

As you do your research, take into consideration the kind of doctor you need. Do you prefer a primary care physician focused on disease treatment, or wellness and prevention? Also think about the kind of relationship you’d like to have with your PCP. Do you prefer one whose communication style is friendly and warm, or more formal?

Once you’ve decided on a Mercy physician, the next step is to call and make an initial appointment.

Before your first appointment, write down a list of questions, and take them with you. When you meet, take the time to go through your list. I Make sure any questions you have are addressed to your satisfaction, and you’re comfortable with the information you receive.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Does the provider invite you to be involved in your care?
  • Does the provider view the patient-doctor relationship as a true partnership?

Taking the time to research, asking questions and reviewing you and your family’s needs with your Mercy primary care physician will ensure the partnership you form will be a long-lasting and beneficial one.