by Barri L. Burch, DMHC
Doctors Making Housecalls has long touted the benefits of having a Primary Care Physician. It’s certainly the cornerstone of our practice philosophy, but often we are surprised by the number of patients who see the PCP relationship as superfluous, or merely the means to a sub-specialist end.
Forming a personal and ongoing relationship with a care provider establishes your first line of defense in getting well and, most importantly, staying well. A strong relationship creates the path to more informed – and more successful – treatment plans over time and provides a single point of contact for all your medical needs. The PCP relationship not only covers routine physicals and treatment of acute or chronic conditions, but also provides continuity of care for your lifetime, and a serves as trusted resource to help you live a healthier life and avoid future illness, urgent care visits and unnecessary medical events or hospitalizations.
When looking for a Primary Care Physician it is important to select someone who listens to you, relates to you, makes you feel at ease and who is genuinely interested in your well-being. When you are sick or need immediate medical attention, you want to be comfortable seeing someone you know and trust and, even more importantly, someone who knows you—your values, your family situation, your job pressures, and your health and wellness goals—and the breadth of your medical history.
Top 7 Reasons to have a Primary Care Physician
- Proactive, Preventative Care – Identify health concerns and chronic illnesses earlier through regular check-ups with someone who knows you and your medical history. Early detection is key to treating, managing, and sometimes curing many diseases, disorders, cancers, and other serious health problems. Regular health check-ups and an annual physical can be life-saving.
- Better management and control of chronic health conditions – Living with a persistent health problem can be extremely challenging, and lead to decreased quality of life due to chronic conditions. Primary care physicians help patients manage conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, or arthritis, improving overall quality of life.
- More accurate diagnoses – Because they have a thorough knowledge of your entire medical history, your primary care physician is more likely to notice if something is off, despite your condition being masked by common symptoms, and they can help you find the true cause of your health concern.
- Referrals to other medical specialists – If a health problem develops that is beyond the scope of what your primary physician treats, he or she can refer you to the right specialist for your personal health needs. A strong referral to your provider’s network of sub-specialists can help give you access to the best care available.
- Continuity of Care – If and when patients are receiving care from multiple specialists, your primary physician will help you coordinate treatments, analyze medical records, and identify any conflicting treatment plans or medications that other specialists may not be aware of. And, because they have a more complete picture of your medical history and current health, PCPs may also recognize any incorrect diagnoses you receive from other specialists.
- Lower overall healthcare costs – Over the long-term, maintaining good health is the best way to avoid future, larger costly healthcare issues. And, in the short-term, primary care physicians are significantly less expensive than urgent care and emergency rooms.
- Better patient-provider communication – Your care is in the hands of someone you know and trust, and most importantly, someone who LISTENS. Many patients report dissatisfaction with their providers because they feel they are rushed through appointments and not being heard. A long-term partnership with a PCP allows for a deeper and more comfortable level of understanding between physician and patient.