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, 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.

Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Primary Care Clinician (Pediatrician / Family Physician)

Personal Preferences - Questions to ask yourself first
  • 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.