Selecting Your Primary Care Provider

Primary Care Physicians

The first-and most important step you take as a Santa Barbara Select IPA member is to select a Primary Care Physician (PCP) within the service area where you live or work to manage your health care. Your PCP will become your primary caregiver, as well as your medical advisor, coordinator of specialty care-and a trusted partner in lifelong health and wellness. Each of your covered family members may select a different PCP based on personal preference and the services most appropriate to their needs. For example, adults may prefer an internist. A general or family practice physician is appropriate for adults, teens and children. And you'll most likely want a pediatrician for infants, children and teens. For assistance with the selection of PCPs, you may contact our Member Services staff. They can help identify male or female physicians and languages spoken by the doctor or his staff.

Members are encouraged to communicate openly with their PCPs and to build a relationship of trust. In addition, you always have the option of changing your PCP selection should your needs or preferences change. Some PCPs work in a solo practice while others work with colleagues in small group practices. If you need to be seen soon and your group practice PCP is not available, you will generally be offered the option of an appointment with one of his/her associates in the same office.

Female patients also have the freedom to see either their PCP for well woman exams and most gynecological care or to self-refer for obstetrician/ gynecologist services to any of our many panel OB/GYNs.

Why Choose Santa Barbara Select Physicians as Your Medical Group?

Santa Barbara Select Independent Physicians Association Medical Group is comprised of more than 90 local physicians and other health care professionals dedicated to maintaining the health and well being of you and your family. We are the vehicle through which these PCPs and specialists contract with various HMO plans to provide quality health care. We are unique in that our providers are members of the independent medical community and thus exclusively work out of private offices.

Choosing A Primary Care Physician

Need help choosing a PCP? The following information should help:

Why do I need to select a PCP?

You, and each member of your family, should select a PCP. All of our health plans require it. This choice is very important, as your PCP will be responsible for "managing" your health care needs including, but not limited to:

  • Annual examinations
  • Immunizations
  • Diagnosis and treatment of routine and acute illness
  • Preventive health
  • Coordinating management of chronic ailments
  • Coordinate Specialty care

How do I know which PCP to choose?

PCPs often specialize in the treatment of patients of specific ages. These definitions may help you decide your preference:

  • Family Physicians are trained in a full range of care including pediatrics and adult medicine
  • Pediatricians specialize in children from birth through the teen-age years.
  • Internal medicine (Internists) physicians specialize in adult medicine.
  • Geriatricians may be either Internists or Family Physicians and have a special credential in the care and treatment of older adults

Other important factors to consider include:

  • Do you prefer a male or female physician?
  • Do you want a physician close to your home or prefer a location close to where you work?
  • Do you need a physician who has knowledge of a specific language or culture?

What can make my first appointment more effective?

  • Remember to bring your insurance card.
  • Have your questions or concerns written down in preparation for your appointment. It's also a good idea to write down the physician's answers.
  • Arrange the transfer of your pertinent medical records from your previous physician at your earliest convenience.
  • Be as specific as possible about your symptoms and any treatments you have already received or are currently receiving.
  • Bring all of the prescriptions and over-the-counter medications you are currently taking.
  • Review your own past medical history before the appointment so that you can provide complete information including dates about prior surgeries and significant illnesses.
  • Be sure to mention all known allergies and especially those to medications.
  • Bring a record or list of your vaccination history including dates.
  • If you have one, bring a copy of your advance directive or durable power of attorney for medical care. These documents describe the extent of medical and/or life-support measures you have chosen. The documents also list the person(s) you have identified to make your medical decisions if you are unable to do so.
  • At the end of the appointment, review what you are expected to do in relation to the treatment plan or advice provided by the physician. Ask questions if the plan remains unclear to you.