Choosing a general practitioner (GP) for you or your loved ones is an important step on your health journey, but it can be a difficult and stressful decision to make. A good GP will become almost a partner in your wellbeing, as their knowledge of you and your concerns will help them notice problems you may have thought nothing of, and can make carefully informed decisions about referrals, tests, and medication with you.
Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and there will likely come a time when you must find a new GP. Whether you’ve moved to a new area, your current GP retires, or you’re just not comfortable with them moving forward, here are our top tips for selecting the right GP for you.
1. Ask around
Just as you might ask friends for advice on local tradies or coffee spots, the people you know are going to be an invaluable resource for finding your GP. This step can be a good one to take before any others, because you are more likely to hear firsthand why a friend or acquaintance likes or dislikes a certain GP.
2. Narrow your search
Did you know that the Australian Government offers a handy online service to help you find medical professionals in your area? Visit this link to search for a GP (or dentist, physiotherapist, psychologist, podiatrist, optometrist, etc.) near you. You can narrow down the field by selecting options that are important to you, like whether they bulk bill, accessible parking and building, and what after-hours options are available.
3. Bills, bills, bills
Thinking about how a prospective GP bills can be a helpful tool to inform you about their practice. A practice that bulk bills all patients may be more concerned with seeing a greater volume of people each day to maximise their billing. While this is very convenient for some, a practitioner who charges you a gap for their service on top of the Medicare fee is perhaps more likely to spend longer with a patient for in-depth consultations. Considering which of these options is more important to you is helpful information to have going before making up your mind.
4. Bonus level
If you have a number of GPs who potentially meet your needs, then it can be helpful to take a look at what extra things each have to offer you as a patient. Things to consider include:
- Home visits
- After hours services
- Areas of specialisation (many GPs will have extra qualifications that could be helpful to you)
- Ease of booking
5. Take the plunge
Once you believe you’ve found a god candidate, it’s time to meet with them in person. At this first visit, be sure to speak with them about any of your specific health concerns you have – they are going to perform their best when they are armed with all the information. Remember that your initial consultation isn’t an unbreakable vow – if it doesn’t turn out to be a good fit for you, you are under no obligation to go back.
What’s your best tip for someone searching for a new GP?