January 02, 2024 Healthy Living

A New Patient Guide for a Successful First Doctor’s Appointment

While it might seem as simple as picking up the phone, getting established at a new doctor’s office can feel overwhelming. Here are some tips for finding the right provider, getting an appointment, and making the most of your first visit.

  • Consider your care preferences. Think about the office setting. Would you prefer a small practice where you see the same doctor for most appointments? Or does a larger practice appeal to you with multiple providers/specialists? Consider the location of the practice and its hours. Is it close to your home, work, or child’s school or daycare? Do they see patients in the early morning, after 5 p.m., or on weekends? These are important considerations that will make getting an appointment when you need one more convenient. 
  • Find a doctor. Once you have a practice in mind (or maybe you don’t – that is OK too), you’ll need to choose an in-network physician. If you are a CDPHP member, Find-A-Doc is a great place to start.
  • Prepare to make your first appointment. When you call to make your first appointment, the office staff may ask when you would like to be seen. Is there a day or time that works best for you? Having these in mind will help make scheduling easier.
  • Make the call. Once you know who you would like to see and when, call the office. You will want to have your most recent insurance card handy.
  • Start a list of questions. Prior to the appointment, think about what you would like to discuss with your new physician. It’s likely they will ask about your family history, healthy habits, and any concerns you may have. Write these things down so you don’t forget essential information in the moment.

    Tip: Review these adult preventive care guidelines prior to your appointment.
  • Dress comfortably. Limit the fuss when stepping on the scale, having your blood pressure checked, or changing into a gown by wearing clothing and shoes that are easy to get on and off. 
  • Bring a photo ID and insurance card. Be sure to bring a photo ID (if available) and your insurance card(s) to your appointment. You will be asked for these when checking in.
  • Be mindful of others. If you have any cold or flu-like symptoms, consider wearing a mask in common areas. 
  • Arrive to your appointment early. New patients often have paperwork to complete. It’s a good idea to arrive 10-15 minutes early so you have time to fill out documents without feeling hurried.
  • Choose a pharmacy. Most likely, the doctor or nurse will ask what pharmacy you use. If you don’t already have one, download the ConnectRx, On the Go app to browse pharmacies near you, compare drug costs, and more. If you’re located in the Capital Region, ConnectRx pharmacy powered by CDPHP, offers free home delivery and cost-savings with mail-order benefit pricing on 90-day supplies.
  • Take notes during your appointment. Your doctor may share a lot of important information with you. Take notes during or after the appointment so you can reference them later. If you take notes on your phone, telling your doctor is a nice courtesy. That way, they won’t think you are texting or sending an email.
  • Schedule any follow up visits or exams. Follow-through with your care plan by making future appointments, scheduling screenings, and pick up any prescriptions from your pharmacy.
  • Create a patient portal account. Most providers use some type of secure online portal for patients to access medical records, view test results, book appointments, and message clinical staff. Setting up your patient portal account after your first visit can make managing your health care needs more convenient and accessible.

Getting established with a primary care provider is one of the most important steps you can take to better your health. We hope this blog provided you with the knowledge and confidence to start (or restart) your own health care journey.

In need of a little extra support? Call the number on the back of your member ID card and a representative from CDPHP can help you navigate.

Sarah Palmer
About the Author

Sarah joined CDPHP® in 2021 as a team engagement and communications specialist. Sarah brings with her ten years of experience in retail and hospitality, with a focus on digital marketing and internal relations. She attended the State University of New York College at Oneonta, where she earned her BS in Communication Studies. Sarah lives in the Capital Region with her husband and two young daughters. She enjoys cooking, DIY projects, family trips to the park, and spending time at her family's camp in the summer.

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