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Start the New Year on the Right Health Track.

Establish a Relationship with a Primary Care Provider: It is one resolution easy to keep.

By: Kristin Carlson, Marketing Specialist, Bonner General Health

“January 1st, I’m starting my diet”. “I’m going to the gym every day and drinking more water; this is the year I will quit smoking.” For many of us, a New Year means New Years’ Resolutions. While all these examples are excellent ideas, most of us have trouble accomplishing one, let alone all these health declarations. 

Here’s an idea:  When it comes to your health, what if you made just one resolution? Establishing yourself with a Primary Care Provider can get you on a long-term health track and one step closer to meeting all of your healthcare resolutions. 

What is a Primary Care Provider?

When a non-emergent health issue arises, a Primary Care Provider (PCP) will most likely be your first call. A PCP typically manages your overall health and wellness, treats you when you are sick, and is a referral to specialty care. 

A primary care Doctor, Physician Assistant (P.A.), and Nurse Practitioner (N.P.) can all serve as your PCP. The main differences are the level of education and areas of training. However, they are all unique in their ability to diagnose and treat various health concerns.

Many feel they are in good health and do not need a Primary Care Provider. If I get sick, then I’ll call a doctor. Having a PCP before you get ill eliminates the guessing of where to go when you don’t feel well. Also, it may be challenging to get in right away if you are coming in as a new patient.  

What are the benefits?

Seeing your PCP regularly typically leads to more preventative screening, wellness exams, and the management of chronic conditions if and when they arise. Things such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cancer screening, and immunizations help generate health longevity, promoting sustained and improved quality of life.

The more habitually you see your PCP, the more familiar they become with your health history, habits, and conditions. In addition, routine appointments promote trust and ease the discomfort of sharing intimate details of your health.

In most cases, a wellness exam or annual appointment with your primary care provider to prevent or catch health issues early on, is almost always 100% covered by insurance. An appointment with your PCP can allow you to discuss several topics of concern and seek advice or treatment for more than one issue, saving you time. It is also an opportunity to have routine screenings and discuss new concerns. In addition, catching or preventing future health issues can save you from more extensive, costly, and potentially life-threatening conditions and treatments in the future.

When choosing a Primary Care Provider, think about what will work best for you and your family.   Some PCPs operate under a family practice model, where your entire family can be seen and treated. Others may focus on women’s health, pediatrics, adult, or elderly patients. 

Declare just one resolution and keep it all year long:  Make the call to establish a relationship with a provider. If you have a provider but haven’t seen them in more than a year, today is a great day to call them. Go ahead, and accomplish your health goals!

For a complete list of services offered by Bonner General health, visit www.bonnergeneral.org. This article was written for publication in Sandpoint Living Local – January/February 2023.

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