Why You Need a Primary Care Provider
Laura Del Guerra, RD, CDE, Take Control Health Coach
You’re healthy, relatively young – or still feel young – so, do you really need a primary care provider (PCP)? The answer is “Yes, you absolutely do.”
With so much medical information available online, it’s tempting to visit an urgent care or Google your symptoms, but the reality is you need someone who can do more than diagnose. You need a trusted resource who will interpret, and give advice on the best medical course of action. A person who has all of your medical and family history at their fingertips. You won’t find that anywhere else besides with a primary care provider.
A PCP is a generalist who sees adults for common issues including infections, illnesses, and other general issues. Things like unexplained bumps, the mole you’ve been meaning to have checked, or an abnormal lab value on the annual screening done through your employer. They are also the best provider to help manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and others. Plus, having a PCP who knows you means you’ll save money and have better medical outcomes.
Four Ways a Primary Care Provider Will Improve Your Health
- Time Savings. Often, urgent care visits keep you waiting longer than expected. Having a relationship with a PCP allows issues that come up to be handled quickly and efficiently – many times over the phone. The more familiar your provider is with you, the more effective he/she can be in determining the best treatment. A PCP typically has dedicated time built into their daily schedule for urgent visits. No more waiting forever.
- Personalized Care. A PCP will treat you as a ‘whole person,’ taking into account your values, beliefs and preferences. Seeing your PCP regularly allows you to develop a relationship based on trust; and a better relationship makes for better care.
- Preventative Care. Primary care isn’t just for older adults. Your long-term health is in part dependent on the care you receive as a young adult. Your PCP will make sure you are getting the routine screenings you need to prevent a catastrophic illness.
- Medical Management. PCP’s are skilled at managing the day-to-day complexities of multiple health conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and others. They will review your medications to ensure there are no interactions. Often your PCP can find savings on medications or shorten your medication list. They also routinely communicate with specialists, and will refer you to one as needed. Your PCP is a valuable resource who will give you guidance on how to integrate the varied, complex, and sometimes contradictory information you receive from specialists.
How to Choose a Primary Care Provider
- Talk to friends and family members. Ask them who they see and trust. Ask how easy it is to reach the provider or their nurse during the day. What about after hours calls? Does the provider have same day appointments? Telehealth visits?
- Check with your insurance plan. Look for an in-network provider. If the provider you are interested in seeing is not listed, call the provider to check and see if they are in-network on your plan.
If you don’t already have a primary care provider, take the time now to get established with one. This will ensure that when the time comes that you need medical treatment, you will have a resource already in place who knows your medical history and will make it easier to get the care you need.