By Kathy Hubbard
I don’t know the statistic for how many people have primary care providers, but I do know that a lot of us depend on Immediate Care or the Emergency Department for our healthcare needs. And, I also know that having a primary care provider can be a huge advantage for a lot of reasons.
Today we’re going to look at the top ten reasons to have a PCP. For help, I found a website www.unitypoint.org which is a group of hospitals and clinics in the mid-west. I liked their explanation of the advantages of having a PCP. This is a slightly edited version of what they said:
1. Holistic Health Care. Your primary care doctor focuses on holistic health care, meaning he or she is trained in treating a little bit of everything and coordinates patient health care in one central location. With a primary care doctor, you only need to make one appointment to discuss a variety of health issues you might be experiencing, whether they are physical, emotional or mental.
2. Better Manage Chronic Diseases. Chronic health conditions like diabetes, arthritis and lupus are often difficult to monitor by yourself. A primary care doctor can help you stay organized and aware of how your chronic disease is affecting your body. Scheduling regular visits and performing routine tests are two ways your doctor can help you better maintain your chronic disease.
3. Higher Level of Comfort. Most people don’t love talking to strangers, especially about their health care needs and concerns. Choosing a primary care doctor you trust is the first step. The next step is scheduling regular appointments with your doctor so that you can discuss your concerns and overall health.
4. Transparency of Entire Health History. Routine visits with your primary care provider not only help with your comfort level, but they also build on your health history. Knowledge of your health history, as well as your family health history, is imperative for prevention of diseases and also helps your doctor catch early symptoms of serious conditions.
5. Lower Overall Health Costs. Regular screenings, open communication between you and your doctor, and a record of your health history all contribute to an overall lower cost of health care.
6. Routine Screenings. Taking your blood pressure at every appointment might seem like a task, but screenings like these hold great importance when it comes to your health. Undergoing testing on a regular basis helps catch symptoms before they get worse or lead to debilitating health issues.
7. Catch Health Issues Early. While routine screenings may find certain symptoms of health issues before they become larger problems, your primary care doctor also knows you well enough to ask the right questions and detect other health issues in their early stages.
8. Referrals to Other Medical Specialists. Do you need a referral to see an ENT or a cardiologist? Start with an appointment with your primary care doctor. Chances are your doctor has helpful recommendations for specialists since he or she is familiar with how you prefer to participate in your health care.
9. Decrease in Hospital and ER Visits. Research shows that patients who regularly visit their primary care physicians have fewer hospitalizations and emergency visits than those who do not utilize primary care doctors. Waiting too long to see a doctor or ignoring symptoms can lead to a hospitalization or an ER visit, two of the most expensive and overwhelming outcomes for patients.
10. Better Patient-provider Communication. Communication is a two-way street, especially when it comes to your health. Communicating your health wants, needs and concerns are crucial for your doctor to address your health appropriately. Likewise, your primary care doctor should also feel comfortable holding honest conversations with you regarding their concerns and thoughts regarding your health.
Your relationship with your primary care provider is an important one, and you should be diligent at finding one you feel comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to change providers if you’re not satisfied, and when choosing a new one, ask for the opportunity to interview him or her prior to your first medical check-up.
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at email@example.com.