How to find a primary care doctor

Having a primary care doctor is the first step to managing your health care needs. Here are tips for finding a doctor you can trust.
May 11, 2022
A doctor hugs her patient. finding a primary care doctor you trust is important.
Finding a primary care doctor is the first step to take to manage your health care needs, including chronic diseases like diabetes. Photo: Getty Images.

Having a great primary care doctor is central to staying healthy and getting help when you are sick.

So, how can you find a good primary care doctor?

Thankfully, online information has made it much easier to find primary care providers, read reviews and select a doctor.

Like Yelp, TripAdvisor or Google Reviews, online reviews make it easy to learn more about primary care providers and to see ratings and comments.

You can get to know your doctor online through star ratings, comments and detailed profiles before selecting a primary care provider and building a relationship to help you stay healthy.

“Along with star ratings, we know it’s very important for patients to be able to see reviews. Comments are where it’s at. Patients want to understand what this person is like and if they will understand my needs,” said Nicole Caputo, senior director of experience and innovation for UCHealth.

The ratings, reviews and comments that UCHealth posts publicly all come from patients who have recently seen a doctor. An outside firm gathers the reviews to be sure that they’re real, unbiased and transparent.

“Our reviews and comments come directly from our survey vendor, NRC (which stands for National Research Corporation). They’re real-time surveys. Within 48 hours after a visit, patients get a phone call, text or an email,” said Mary Scannell, director of patient experience for UCHealth.

“The information comes directly from patients who have seen that doctor. It’s transparent and comes from a trusted source, so you know you’re seeing real reviews and comments,” said Scannell.

Based on the surveys, each provider gets a rating on a five-star system. Patients can also leave comments.

“All of our providers have pretty stellar ratings,” Caputo said.

The reviews make it possible for patients to see up-to-date information that reads like word-of-mouth recommendations from friends. For new providers, the reviews, comments and stars start populating as soon as the provider has at least 30 reviews. The only reviews that get deleted are those that contain vulgarities. Other than that, patients can view all real, unbiased reviews and comments.

How to search for primary care providers

Patients can search both on a desktop computer — by going to uchealth.org — or on their phone by using My Health Connection on the UCHealth mobile app.

So, how do you find available providers and check out their reviews?

You can search for primary care providers based on location or availability.

How to select a primary care doctor while searching on a desktop device

If you’re searching for providers on a desktop computer, you can go to uchealth.org, click on specialties at the top of the page, and then on primary care. From there, you can search via providers or by location.

A list of providers will pop up and you’ll be able to see their star ratings along with profiles.

How to select a primary care doctor while searching on the UCHealth mobile app

Profiles and star ratings will all pop up when you search in the UCHealth mobile app.

If patients need an appointment quickly, they can see which providers in their area have the earliest availability.

“The app will provide them lists of people closest to where they live or work. It’s pretty cool,” Caputo said. “Both online and in the app, people can see which providers are accepting new patients.”

She encourages new patients to set up My Health Connection accounts and to use the app because they will have the ease of scheduling online and easily following up to get test results, fill prescriptions and make or cancel appointments.

“Everything is right there. You’ll be able to see which providers have availability first. You can say whether you want to be seen virtually or in person. If you select a virtual appointment, it will show you the next available provider. The providers also are listed under their clinics if you prefer to select a provider based on a location,” Caputo said.

How to schedule appointments with a specialist

On top of selecting and booking an appointment with a new primary care provider, you might also wish to see a specialist.

It’s essential to establish care first with a primary care provider who can keep an eye on your overall health picture and make sure that you’re tending to important tests, screenings and staying up to date on prescriptions.

It’s wise to establish care and see a primary care provider when you are well versus trying to schedule your first primary care visit when you are sick. Most health insurance plans cover free annual wellness visits with a primary care provider. So do yourself a favor and establish care right away with a primary care provider.

On top of overseeing your health, primary care providers can also help you identify specialists and get referrals. Once you’ve seen a specialist, you can schedule online follow-up appointments via your desktop computer or by logging in to My Health Connection from the UCHealth app on your phone or tablet. The first time you see a specialist, you need to call to make an appointment. This is also helpful because the clinic staffers can make sure patients have necessary pre-authorizations or referrals to see the specialist (if your insurance provider requires them). Clinic staffers can also help you schedule any necessary tests to get the most out of your visit with your specialist.

“Once you have an established relationship with a provider, you can easily schedule again with them online either on your computer or through the app,” Caputo said.

She encourages everyone to use the app because it’s powerful and it does so much.

“Once you establish care with a primary care provider, he or she will automatically show up in your account. You’ll be one click away from getting help.”

About the author

Katie Kerwin McCrimmon is a proud Colorado native. She attended Colorado College, thanks to a merit scholarship from the Boettcher Foundation, and worked as a park ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park during summer breaks from college. She is also a storyteller. She loves getting to know UCHealth patients and providers and sharing their inspiring stories.

Katie spent years working as a journalist at the Rocky Mountain News and was a finalist with a team of reporters for the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of a deadly wildfire in Glenwood Springs in 1994. Katie was the first reporter in the U.S. to track down and interview survivors of the tragic blaze, which left 14 firefighters dead.

She covered an array of beats over the years, including the environment, politics, education and criminal justice. She also loved covering stories in Congress and at the U.S. Supreme Court during a stint as the Rocky’s reporter in Washington, D.C.

Katie then worked as a reporter for an online health news site before joining the UCHealth team in 2017.

Katie and her husband Cyrus, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, have three children. The family loves traveling together anywhere from Glacier National Park to Cuba.

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