A primary care physician can help spot troubles before they start
A long-term relationship with the family doctor can lead to long-term health
We keep the car in tune, we mow the lawn on a regular basis, and we’ll even change the smoke alarm batteries when the fire department issues a reminder. And yet for too many of us, we neglect personal maintenance and fail to choose and visit a primary care physician.
With a trust-based relationship of two-way communication, a patient and primary care physician can form a partnership that leads to a future of better health and better health-related decision making. The continuity of care that develops with a primary care physician (sometimes referred to by your insurance company as a PCP) will build upon itself as the provider gets to know the patient, their health history and their health care goals.
Here are six reasons it makes healthy sense to find and choose a trusted primary care physician:
- A primary care physician treats you with your medical and family history in mind. A regular doctor will know the intricacies of your health and wellness. They will know whether there is a history of hereditary disease in your family, take appropriate measures to test, and advise about precautions for the rest of your family. They will know, too, the progression of their patient’s conditions. And, since they will be familiarity with the unique details of your case, the PCP will not order unnecessary referrals for treatment or testing. The primary care physician is often the one-stop caregiver.
- A primary care physician offers guidance on treatment options. If treatment by a specialist is a smart option, the primary care doctor can assist the patient in making that choice. And in many cases, they may be able to guide the patient to a specialist who is known and trusted by the primary care provider.
- A primary care physician is your “quarterback of care.” The regular doctor will know a patient’s prior immunizations as well as the results of health screenings from the past several years. The PCP will also know whether there were previous abnormal test results, surgeries and medical procedures you’ve undergone. Along with you, they are your health historian and guide to prevention and condition management. They will know your current medications and supplements, and they will be able to assess whether ongoing dosages and frequency are appropriate for your changing health. And routine maintenance will likely include valuable routine checks and suggestions for key milestone tests, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, cancer screening, and cholesterol and blood pressure monitoring.
- A primary care physician who sees you regularly is more likely to notice changes in your health. Maybe you’ve been learned to live and even tolerate a chronic pain. Perhaps even loved ones have adopted that same attitude. A PCP will look more critically at a condition the patient has classified as normal. The PCP will offer assessment and treatment as necessary.
- A primary care physician will treat the whole patient, not just the symptom. A primary care physician is trained to listen. So while the patient may have shown up at their medical home seeking treatment for a cut, the PCP will want to know more. How did the cut happen? Because of a fall? How did the fall happen? How often has that happened? And so on. The PCP will want to know more than just to focus exclusively on a one-time remedy.
- The primary care physician is part of the patient’s medical home. A primary care physician is trained to diagnose and treat, but they will have a team of colleagues who can offer consultation. They can come from across your provider’s network of care, from specialists to nurse practitioners and therapists, all of whom can offer their expertise in optimizing your care plan. Better coordinated care leads to improved outcomes for patient.
Need a primary care doctor? Find a PSJH physician near you:
For same-day appointments, extended hours and trusted providers, visit Providence Express Care Clinics, Express Care Virtual, and Urgent Care. (Services not currently available in Alaska).
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.