How do I find a good primary care doctor?
April 1, 2017 12:27 PM   Subscribe

My primary care doc just left town, so I'm looking for a new one. Recommendations from friends are not panning out. Where else do I look?

I'm looking for someone who can handle most of the general health concerns & issues facing a 44-year-old guy. Assuming I'm starting from scratch, how do I narrow my search? Best-doctor lists are focused more on finding specialists. Is there a Yelp for GPs?

(Bonus points if they're in or close to southeast Portland, OR.)
posted by gottabefunky to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a Yelp for GPs?

Why not just check Yelp? That's how I've found my docs for the last several years, with great success.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:01 PM on April 1

I would hit up your insurance company's website and look for a practice in your zip code. Then call to see if it has a 24 hr or after-hours walk-in clinic and/or an on-site pharmacy. These are super helpful when you find yourself sick. You bypass ER waits and costs and insurance bureaucracy. And if you need a script, you don't have to drag your sorry ass yet another place.

If you find something like that, then see if you can find a PCP doctor at that location who's about 5-10 years older than you. I.e, someone who's experientially aware of the stuff a guy like you would be going through or need to think about. Then, I'd just Google and yelp that person to eliminate any wackos.
posted by cocoagirl at 1:07 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]

Due to some complicated medical issues, we needed a GP who was a good listener and would coordinate with the specialists. We found one that worked on Angie's List (already had paid subscription for other reasons)
posted by metahawk at 1:13 PM on April 1

I have really liked the service at Zoomcare -- they exist only in Portland and Seattle, but feel like how modern health care should be: online, same-day, on-time appointments; doctors or APRNs who are aware of costs and have great bedside manner; etc. Best of all​, if you are unhappy with the experience, there is a number to call.

Some employers / insurance companies offer Castlight, which is Yelp for Doctors (but not plastic surgeons; that's RealSelf). Their cost estimates are to be taken with a grain of salt, but it may be an option if you don't​ want to go the Zoomcare route.
posted by batter_my_heart at 1:24 PM on April 1

I've seen people post this question on NextDoor app and get 100+ responses from their neighbors.
posted by ilovewinter at 1:40 PM on April 1

Just an aside: "best doctor" lists are generally made up of wholly unremarkable docs who are, for one reason or another, willing to pony up a sum of money to some publication to get their name on the list. It has minimal relation to their actual clinical ability.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 2:08 PM on April 1 [4 favorites]

Seconding the advice to go through your insurance company's website--you'll be able to narrow by speciality (search "internal medicine" or "family practice" if you're just looking for a GP) and many of the doctors will have short web bios or even videos. I found my GP (whom I really like) because her personality as showcased in her video seemed like it would suit me best.
posted by TwoStride at 3:02 PM on April 1

If your friends' suggestions didn't pan out, you might try other medical professionals you deal with, like your dentist or any medical specialists you see. They will only recommend PCPs they have had good working relationships with (which is a plus for you) or ones they hear patients rave about (which isn't bad either).
posted by DrGail at 3:11 PM on April 1

Besides Yelp, Zocdoc is also good for doctor reviews.
posted by cookiedough at 4:31 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]

When I was in that situation, I asked for a recommendation from my old GP, but it sounds like it's too late for that in your case. Do you regularly see any specialists? Maybe one of them might be able to recommend somebody.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:51 PM on April 1

Look for a doctor that is easy to get to from work or home, and is a bit on the younger side.

Also feel free to look for a new doctor if you don't like the first few visits- no commitment necessary, try as many as you need before you find one that works well for you.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:35 PM on April 1

IANYD. I've moved around a lot over the last 10 years or so, and find that, by and large, personal recommendations are the best way to go (and I'm lucky, because most of my professional contacts are other physicians and health care professionals, so if they say someone is good, they're pretty good. I also realize that we treat each other as colleagues, so.). But it sounds like you haven't had much luck in that regard. I echo the suggestion of looking at your insurance company's website, and finding someone who is convenient for you to get to (either from work or home).

I'd be cautious about using most of the review sites, because of squeaky wheels. Lots of really great doctors get negative reviews for the wrong reasons, and happy people very seldom leave reviews. Zocdoc is one of the better ones, and I've had several referrals come through via Angie's List, if you already have a subscription.
posted by honeybee413 at 9:47 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]

Propublica just launched a new site to learn info about doctors and if they are being paid off by big Pharma, etc.

Honestly, the best way I've found is to join a local Facebook group for my area. There was an "[County Name] and Friends" group where I used to live. It had like 6000 members. You would learn about new restaurants, crime in the area, but also people would ask for doctor recommendations. So far, it's worked out really well.

(And I'd avoid Castlight if you see that mentioned somewhere).
posted by getawaysticks at 8:30 PM on April 2

batter_my_heart, about Zoomcare, they're *really* convenient but I wonder what the turnover rate is among docs there? I'd like to set something up for someone I can see for the foreseeable future, as in years, and I wonder if that fits their model.
posted by gottabefunky at 2:54 PM on April 3

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