Importance of Having a Primary Care Physician

CBG_6353 copy(resized).jpg

Definition

A primary care physician may have a diversified background including family medicine, internal medicine, nursing, nurse practitioners, pediatrics, gerontology, behavioral health, and community health.

Role

The importance of primary care cannot be stressed enough when discussing how to take proper care of your overall health. A primary care physician is the gatekeeper of your healthcare needs. For many patients, they are the first point of contact in the healthcare system. An important role of the primary care physician is to diagnose, treat and help prevent medical conditions. By screening for health care issues early, many illnesses can be prevented or more easily managed if found.

Familiarity

It is helpful to have a doctor who knows you and is familiar with your care needs. This level of familiarity with your health is important in determining what specialists you need to see and what diagnostic tests are required on a routine basis.

Prevention and Screening

Your primary care physician is responsible for screening and preventing health conditions and problems. They promote preventative care by identifying any risk factors in order to help you stay healthy. She will monitor your blood pressure, and screen for diabetes, obesity and other health conditions. Another important role will be to make sure that you are up to date on your immunizations, including influenza, shingles and pneumonia. Primary care physicians also screen for depression, early signs of cancer and chronic disease.

Coordination of Care

Your primary care physician can also be an important partner in coordinating and navigating your health care when you see specialists. An important role of the primary care physician is to be aware of the medications prescribed to you by multiple providers and identify any potential interactions. Reviewing both routine and specialty tests results, including blood work, and communicating the results to you is very helpful and necessary for comprehensive quality care.

Medical Advice and Cost Containment

You may choose to call and/or visit your primary care physician first instead of going to an urgent care or emergency department. When a situation is not a life or death situation, your primary care doctor’s familiarity with your healthcare may help you navigate your healthcare issue. For example, your primary care doctor can give medical advice in the case of cold symptoms, ear infections, sore throats and minor burns. Avoiding unnecessary emergency room visits keeps healthcare costs lower.

Find a Primary Care Doctor that is Right for You

Since your primary care doctor is your ombudsman in coordinating your healthcare, take time in choosing the right doctor for you. Decide if this person should be an individual or team of professionals within a larger medical practice. Do you want to see the same physician or nurse practitioner for each visit? Do you require your physician to have specific training, for example geriatric experience? Do you prefer to have more services provided at your primary care physician’s office as compared to being referred to specialists for care, including routine ob/gyn screening, hearing and eye exams? Do you want your primary care physician to have an electronic communication system so that you can communicate requests for prescription refills or relay questions?

The choice of a primary care physician is an involved process, but plays an important role in coordinating many of your healthcare needs.

For information on Abramson’s Primary Care Practice, please call 484-756-8700.