p11 AdamsAdams    You wouldn’t make a big purchase like a car without doing your research first. You may visit different dealerships, test drive various models, plan for financing options and read reviews before you make any decisions.
    It important to place the same time and energy into selecting the right primary care provider.
    Gateway Medical Group’s goal is to establish a trusted relationship with each and every patient that could last for many years and have a direct effect on your health and well-being. The primary care providers at Gateway Medical Group treat patients of all ages and will help walk you through the process of finding the right fit for you and your family

Why is it important to have a PCP?

    Choosing the right primary care provider is an important first step in managing health care. A patient should feel comfortable confiding in a provider with all questions and concerns. A PCP, like the providers at Gateway Medical Group, is someone who will get to know you and your medical history and is someone you can turn to for regular and preventative care. Gateway considers itself a health-care partner invested in the health of a patient and family. Gateway works with patients to identify health issues early or it will refer patients to the right specialists if needed.

What do I look for in a PCP?

    You should choose a primary care provider that is right for you and your particular circumstances. This can sometimes be subjective and vary from person to person. However, never be afraid to ask the providers or any staff members at Gateway Medical Group questions when making your decision. There are several questions you can ask to help make your decision, including:

  •     What kind of provider meets my health needs – a family practitioner, an internal medicine doctor, a pediatrician, nurse practitioner (NP) or a physician assistant (PA)?
  •     Do I have a preference as to what hospital the physician is affiliated with if there comes a point that I need to be hospitalized?  What specialties does the hospital offer?
  •     Is the provider board-certified, which requires extra training, testing and continuing education? (Visit certificationmatters.org to check.)
  •     If you have a special condition or concern, how many patients has the provider treated with conditions similar to mine and what has been the outcome? Does the group have specialist that can help me with my condition or concern?
  •     Is a provider’s gender important to me? Will a male or female provider handle my concerns differently?
  •     What personality traits would I prefer my PCP have? Does he or she communicate well, listen and explain things in a way that I understand and makes sense to me?

How do I choose a PCP?

    Gateway Medical Group takes most health insurance plans and welcomes questions as to whether the group is in a patient’s health insurance network. Such a move can save time and money. Insurance companies are also a great resource for information; they often have a website or toll-free number to help find someone in your area that meets your needs.  
    Gateway Medical Group says it takes pride in its offices and how they are organized because the comfort and safety of our patients is a top priority. Patients interact with the staff at the offices when they see the provider. The staff aims to be helpful, friendly and courteous upon every visit.
    There are eight convenient locations throughout the Metro East. People can find locations by going to GatewayMedicalGroup.net or calling (618) 798-3587. They can find a PCP by going to GatewayAnytime.com. Appointments can be made online 24 hours a day, seven days a week in about 90 seconds. Same-day or next-day appointments are often available at any of the practice locations.
    All Gateway Medical Group practices have patient portals with 24-hour access to health information and the ability to email a doctor directly.
    Gateway Medical Group encourages patients to ask family and friends or other health-care professionals, such as dentists, pharmacists or optometrists, about recommendations. Their insights can be especially helpful, since they may have had actual interactions with the Gateway Medical Group provider.
    There are now many websites that rate and review doctors. While some are helpful, the accuracy of information can vary. Keep in mind a few reviews may not represent the experiences of the hundreds or thousands of patients a PCP has treated.
    A potential patient can request an introductory call or visit with a provider to help decide. There is no obligation to stay with a provider if you find the relationship is not what you expected. Patients will find its worth taking the time to make a careful and informed decision while also trusting their instincts to take control of their health care and find just the right primary care provider.
    
    The above information is provided by Gateway Medical Group. Dr. Michael Adams, shown, is an internal medicine doctor for Gateway Medical Group and chief medical officer for Gateway Regional Medical Center.