Why do you NEED a primary care physician?
Do you really need a primary care physician? The short answer is, “Yes, you do.” If you’re satisfied with that response, you probably already have one. You’re young , you’re very busy, and you’re healthy. You always have been with the exception of a few colds, a small laceration and a broken bone.
Having a primary care physician will keep you healthier as you age. Studies have confirmed this, stating with more primary care physicians per capita we have better health outcomes, including fewer deaths from cancer, heart disease, or stroke. Having a primary care physician is directly related to a longer life span.
A primary care physician provides continuity of care. Continuity of care means that you establish a relationship with a health care provider and you enhance that relationship year after year. This provider gets to know you and, as a team, your health goals are addressed. The following are the benefits of developing a relationship with a primary care provider:
Healthcare “Guardian “
A guardian will raise the likelihood that you receive an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. They can monitor you and your specific health conditions over time, rather than an Emergency Room physician seeing you once and having to order a battery of potentially unhelpful tests and treatments to cover all the possible diagnoses that they are considering, knowing that they will only see you one time.
Over the long term, a provider who knows your health history, your habits, and your personality can more easily recognize signs that indicate a potential change in your health. For example, if you complain of fatigue to a doctor who doesn’t know you, you might not be taken seriously – but your primary care doctor will be able to see that you aren’t your usual self. They will be able to reassure you when you’re not sick—they’ll know that the mole you’re worried about on your back isn’t a problem because it hasn’t changed during the time that they have been overseeing your care.
If you need to see a specialist, a primary care physician will refer you to someone they trust and with whom they have a solid professional relationship. Your primary care physician can help you sort through and prioritize the specialists’ recommendations. Your primary care physician has a working relationship with their referrals and keeps track of your care with them.”
Faster access to healthcare
Having a primary care provider can help you get care more quickly should you get sick in the future, regardless of the ailment. The primary care physician can also address problems quickly, with specific knowledge about your health history.
Routine yearly physicals give the primary care provider a baseline with which to measure your overall health, and to manage conditions as they arise. They can provide specific information that will help you in a preventative and proactive fashion.
Self Referrals vs. Primary Care Referrals
Do you think it saves you time to go directly to a specialist when you sense something is wrong? Think again. When you refer yourself to a specialist without seeing a primary care physician first, you have identified a problem which may or may not be appropriate for that specialist. Some problems may be simple, yet many problems are not so Straight forward. For example, chest pain can be caused by a heart condition, a chest wall (muscular) condition, an abdominal condition or a neurologic condition. Would you feel comfortable picking one of these avenues as a guess at the expense of the others?
You could have a delay in your diagnosis. Furthermore, some testing can be harmful if certain underlying conditions aren’t ruled out, not to mention the added cost of the referral and testing. Tests can give ‘false positive’ results which, if not evaluated by your primary care physician, could prompt treatment for an illness that you don’t even have. Any test can detect an abnormality unrelated to your diagnosis. You could potentially have even MORE testing to prove those results wrong!
Your primary care physician looks at you; the you as an entire entity. When they do this, they can paint a broad picture of what is going on with you instead of having a short sighted view of your condition or complaints.
The Big Picture
Primary care physicians are trained to look at the whole person. They can consider all the possible treatments and diagnoses, thus creating a list of what order to look at things.
What to Look For
You should find a primary care doctor who is thorough, knowledgeable, confident and a good collaborator or teammate. A good primary care physician will listen to what you have to say, and not dismiss your comments and concerns.
Finally, a good primary care physician should educate you about your health, your diagnosis and any treatments that they rendered. You should leave every appointment feeling that you have a plan and your concerns were addressed.
North Providence Primary & Urgent Care Offices
1830 Mineral Spring Ave. North Providence RI 02904
Coventry Primary & Urgent Care Offices
775 Centre of New England, Coventry RI 02816