The Case for Primary Care: Why Everyone Needs a Primary Care Physician
posted by The Live Better Team | July 8, 2019
More people are choosing to forgo primary care now than ever before. In Utah, specifically, roughly one in three men and one in five women do not have a primary care provider. Why? With the rising cost of healthcare, many families don’t prioritize regular doctor visits, especially if everyone in the family is relatively healthy. If that sounds like you, you may be thinking, “Do I really need a primary care doctor?” The short answer is yes.
Primary care providers (PCPs) are trained to provide comprehensive care to individuals and families, which means you can see a PCP for just about all your medical needs from acute (short-term) illnesses, such as the cold or flu, to chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.
Having a PCP is helpful to not only your health but also your wallet. Benefits of having a PCP include:
YOUR PCP IS YOUR HEALTHCARE ADVOCATE
As your first line of defense in healthcare, your PCP is your health partner—someone you should know and trust—and regular visits with your PCP are a good way to establish that partnership. As you develop a long-term relationship with your doctor, he or she can become more familiar with your health needs and be an advocate for you as you work toward your health goals and navigate through different stages of life. Your PCP can also act as your guide through the healthcare system and help you get the right care in the right place and at the right time.
PCPs PROVIDE CONTINUITY OF CARE
Continuity of care refers to sharing medical information and coordinating care between different providers and locations over time. It also means reducing gaps in your care so that you can control your current conditions and prevent future illness. For example, many signs of chronic illness aren’t noticeable during acute visits to urgent care or until that condition becomes serious, but an annual visit with your PCP—especially one who knows your medical history—can help detect those conditions in their earliest stages when they are easiest and least expensive to treat. Your PCP can also assess your risk for diseases and recommend screenings when they are appropriate.
REGULAR VISITS WITH YOUR PCP HELP ESTABLISH A BASELINE FOR YOUR HEALTH
During regular doctor visits, your PCP will record things like your heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body temperature, oxygen levels, weight and more. Having these measurements creates a baseline for your health, which means you and your doctor can track them over time to see how your health improves or worsens.
PCPs CAN IMPROVE YOUR QUALITY OF CARE
Having high-quality healthcare means being able to get the care you need in the most effective and affordable way possible, and your PCP plays an important role. Research shows that PCPs can help improve your health outcomes while also reducing unnecessary medical spending. For example, adults with PCPs in the United States are 19% less likely to have a premature death, and can also save 33% more on their healthcare costs compared to people who see only specialists for their medical care.
If you haven’t been in for an annual checkup with your PCP, schedule an appointment. If you don’t have a primary care provider, look online for providers near you. Establishing a relationship with a PCP now helps make your care easier and more efficient in the future.
“Percent of Women who Report Having No Personal Doctor/Health Care Provider, by Race/Ethnicity.” Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Percent of Men who Report Having No Personal Doctor/Health Care Provider, by Race/Ethnicity.” Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Primary Care.” American Academy of Family Physicians.
“The Case for Having a Primary Care Physician.” One Medical.
“The Case for Primary Care.” Primary Care Progress.
“The Value of Primary Care.” National Academic Press.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.