Find a doctor in 5 painless steps 

A primary care physician could help you live longer and save money, too. But how do you find the right fit?

There are many reasons to look for a new doctor. Perhaps you've outgrown your pediatrician or your doctor retired. You could be living in a new town or maybe you were assigned a new primary care physician by Priority Health because you didn't have one listed for you, but you'd rather choose your own. If you feel like your current doctor just isn't the right fit, it may be time to start shopping.

Here are five easy steps to choose a new primary care physician (PCP):

Step 1 – Ask a friend

You ask friends for recommendations about restaurants, phone plans and cars. So why not ask about doctors? You'll probably get an earful about what they do (or don't!) like about their doctor. It's a good place to start, but don't stop there.

Step 2 – Stay in-network, save money

Staying in-network means lower out-of-pocket costs for you and will allow you to save the most money. To find an in-network doctor, start by doing some research using the Find a Doctor online directory in your MyHealth account.

Within Find a Doctor, you can search by name, specialty or location to find doctors right in your neighborhood or close to you, then check to see if they are in-network and accepting new patients.

TIP: Have your membership ID card ready so you can specify your plan. You can also change your PCP from your MyHealth account at any time. Stay in-network, save money – it's that easy.

Not tech savvy? Call the number on the back of your membership ID card for a list of in-network doctors near you.

Step 3 – Be picky

Not all PCPs are created equal. A family and general practice doctor might be a good choice if you want your whole family to go to the same office. For women of child-bearing age, an OB/GYN is a smart choice. Or find a specialist for preventive care and help with chronic conditions.

You'll also want to choose between a medical doctor (M.D.) and a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.). Both are licensed by the American Medical Association, although there are fewer D.O.s than M.D.s. The D.O.'s whole-person approach to medicine is gaining popularity, and the number of osteopathic medical students is increasing every year.

Be sure to check your doctor's hospital affiliation, too, so you'll have the option of seeing your own doctor in the event you have to make an unexpected visit.

On a personal level, you may have a gender preference or want a doctor who's about your age. You might connect best with a doctor from your alma mater, someone who shares your love of triathlons, or even a foodie who enjoys fine dining as much as you do can help make your experience that much better.

Step 4 – Do a quality check

It's easy to go online to compare how your doctor measures up. Priority Health uses an "apple" rating to measure a doctor's commitment to preventive care. The more no-cost preventive care they offer, the higher the rating.

You can also check a doctor's HealthGrades ratings and reviews by visiting healthgrades.com. This site encourages patients to rate their experiences with bedside manner, ease of scheduling appointments, average wait times and more.

Step 5 – Make the switch

You can change doctors by calling their offices directly, through your MyHealth member account, or by calling the number on the back of your membership ID card. Your new doctor will request your medical records from your previous one, so nothing gets lost in the transition.

Remember, Priority Health provides most members with annual preventive care office visits and screenings at no cost to the member. For a full list of what is covered, check the Preventive Health Care Guidelines.

Plan ahead. In general, doctors are so busy that they're scheduling well-visit appointments months in advance.

In a hurry? Ask if you can see a nurse practitioner or physician's assistant sooner. That may cut your wait from six months to six weeks or less.