Choosing a Primary Care Clinician

Asking questions can help you make an informed decision when choosing a healthcare provider. It is important to know the answers to these questions before starting treatment with a primary care clinician so you know what your responsibilities are and what to expect. Below are some suggestions of questions to ask your primary care clinician, a pediatrician or family practice physician, and you will most likely have more of your own. Make sure to make a list of the ones that are important to you when contacting or meeting with the provider.

Personal Preferences - Questions to Ask Yourself First

Patients quizzically looking at Clinic A and Clinic B sign with directional arrows
  • Do you prefer a doctor whose communication style is friendly and warm, or more formal?
  • Do you prefer a doctor focused on disease treatment, or wellness and prevention?

Objective Questions for Clinic Front Desk Staff

A. Practices and Policies

  • Does the clinic use email?
  • Does the clinic have a care coordinator, case manager or social worker?
  • Does the clinic have a parent partner or provide parent-to-parent support?
  • Will my main doctor see me after hours or during hospitalizations, or will I be referred to a new doctor on call?
  • Does the clinic have a social worker or ask about mental health?
  • Does the clinic follow the Medical Home Model? (See our About Medical Home page.)

B. Financial

  • Does the clinic help with submitting claims to insurance?
  • If out of state or city, can you recommend lodging or do you have a discount plan with a nearby lodging establishment?

Questions for Clinician, Care Coordinator, and/or Parent Partner

A. Practices and Policies

  • If my child should ever develop a complex illness that necessitates the care of one or more specialists, will the doctor coordinate care among all the specialists and providers?
  • Does the doctor have a conservative or aggressive approach to treatment?
  • Does the doctor order a lot of tests?
  • Does the doctor refer to other specialists frequently or infrequently?
  • Does the clinic have experience helping tube-dependent children wean from a feeding tube?

B. Financial

  • What managed-care programs does the doctor participate in?
  • Can I submit a claim for payment if my provider doesn’t?

Subjective Questions for All Parties Above

  • How easy is it to get in touch with the doctor and nurses?
  • Is the office staff friendly and helpful?
  • Do you take parents’ information about the child into consideration?

Authors & Reviewers

Initial publication: August 2014; last update/revision: August 2019
Current Authors and Reviewers:
Author: Medical Home Team
Reviewer: Mindy Tueller, MS, MCHES
Funding: Thanks to the 2013-14 Portal Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (URLEND) Trainee group for their effort on this project.