To help you understand the importance of a Primary Care Provider or PCP, we have to first know what a PCP is and their responsibility in the healthcare conglomerate. Simply put a PCP is the “Main provider,” whether it is a Medical Doctor or a Nurse Practitioner, this is the patient’s first point of contact when it relates to health promotion and illness prevention, or treatment. The PCP is specialized in diagnosing, treating, and preventing a wide variety of conditions. The importance of a Primary Care Provider or PCP goes far beyond his or her ability to cover multiple disease processes. Establishing care with a PCP affords you consistency and efficiency on a number of levels. Let’s take a deep dive into why having a PCP is so important to your health and wellbeing.
Much of healthcare is centered around a one-size-fits-all approach. A PCP is set on getting to know the intricate details of your life, including your health status. This knowledge and familiarity help personalize your care and save time that may have previously been spent explaining medical history, personal caveats and who you are. When needed, and because your PCP is familiar with you, when problems arise the PCP is well versed on getting to the root of the problem, the Regular exams with a single provider can make it easier to detect health issues earlier, which may provide more treatment options. Offers a consistent source of care and referrals to other medical specialists to plan for a resolution of the issue. A primary care provider’s goal is to deliver the care that’s right for you — not employ a one-size-fits-all approach. Personalized health care is easier when you have a meaningful relationship with your provider.
Health Maintenance and Chronic Disease Management
The PCP is responsible for screening all major health-related conditions. If you already have a chronic condition, your primary care provider helps manage it and improve your quality of life. Your PCP should screen for many things, including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and pain, then refer you to a specialist as needed. He or She should also look at immunization records and help with regular immunization refills. Those refills are more difficult if you don’t have a primary care provider. The PCP is responsible for keeping you abreast on all your blood work, and creating plans to keep you on track for good health.
The Difference Emergency Care, Urgent Care, and Primary Care
When people have questions about when to see a PCP, as opposed to Emergency room care or Urgent Care, my most common response is, “Is your Airway, Breathing, or Circulation affected that it could cause death?” If the answer is no, then you should see your PCP. If your PCP is unavailable and you have an ongoing condition that is causing great discomfort like a urinary tract infection, then you should go to a urgent care clinic to seek relief. Urgent Care providers commonly diagnose and treat colds and coughs, ear infections, minor burns and cuts, rashes and other non-life-threatening conditions. The Emergency Room is for Life threatening conditions only. Outside of life threatening or urgent matters, you should definitely reach out to your primary care provider for all other health related concerns.
So, Let’s Wrap this up
There is a plethora of reasons why a Primary Care Provider is so important, but for the sake of this article let’s focus on these main reasons, a PCP Provides preventive care for life-long health management. In addition to having knowledge on a wide range of health issues, e.g. preventive care and screenings, a primary care provider can make additional recommendations to other providers as needed. The PCP knows your medical history and your family history.
Generally, the PCP visit cost less than other care options, such as a hospital emergency department. Taking full advantage of the services offered by a primary care provider can help you save time and money and may prevent an issue from getting worse, requiring a visit to the emergency department.
Go to your PCP appointments with a list of your top three concerns, any medications you take including supplements, health history about your family (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother) and have your top 5 questions written down. Be prepared for your visit and ask questions, if you do not understand something that is being said ask for clarification. Remember you are developing a relationship, and relationships thrive on open honest communication and trust.
The Mayo Clinic.(2015). The importance of a Primary Care Provider.
The National Library of Medicine.(2018). A systematic review of chronic disease management in primary care. A systematic review of chronic disease management interventions in primary care - PMC (nih.gov)