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Why Do You Need a Primary Care Provider?


Why is the primary care physician relationship good for you?

A recent study found that patients who stayed with the same primary care clinician had a higher probability of avoiding emergency room visits and hospital admissions.  That’s good for your health – not to mention the hundreds or even thousands of out-of-pocket dollars you’ll save.

You might know that primary care physicians attend to your overall wellness, manage chronic illnesses and keep you on track with screenings that prevent serious conditions or catch them early.

But did you know that regularly visiting the same primary care physician has the added benefit of familiarity? Put simply, your doctor gets to know you – and that’s a good thing.

Ever retell your entire health history to a new health care provider? It’s easy to leave out important details. A physician who’s followed you for some time builds a depth of knowledge that makes it easier to connect the dots of your health. That means they can spend less time talking about past history and more time on the present and future you.

An ongoing relationship also leads to trust – on both sides of the exam table. If a new symptom is bothering you – even just a little – you’re more likely to volunteer that information to a physician you know. A doctor who is acquainted with you is likely to give weight to your concerns.  You’re also more apt to take professional advice from someone who’s taken care of your past health problems.

Let’s not forget convenience. Patients who are regulars at a primary care physician’s office have a better chance of getting squeezed in on short notice – when you need it most.

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Why is a relationship with a primary care doctor so important?

Recent surveys have shown that strong patient-physician relationships result in healthier outcomes, and might just be the antidote to an ever-more-complex health care system.  

A primary care doctor addresses your overall health – rather than a single specialty or condition.  A doctor who knows you and your health history can more effectively to treat illnesses as they arise -- and work in a meaningful way to boost your wellness.

Your primary care doctor is also your most frequent contact with a sometimes confusing medical world. Should you need specialized care, your primary doctor can arrange a referral, answer your questions and keep track of all the care you receive.

Establishing a relationship with a primary care provider means you’ll have a well-informed professional in your corner. In this way, your primary care physician becomes a partner in your wellbeing -- and that’s good for you.

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What if I need specialized medical treatment?

Should you need specialty care, a primary care physician does more than refer you to a specialist. Your primary doctor can prepare you for that first visit and answer your questions. Primary care physicians stay in contact with specialists to track your progress, including how specialty treatment impacts your overall health. Should you face complex medical issues, you may see more than one specialist. A primary care physician remains at the center, managing all aspects of your care.

Do I really need annual wellness checkups?

Those annual wellness checks that are routine for kids might not seem as essential for healthy adults. But a yearly checkup helps physicians catch small and big changes in your health status.

An annual visit is when screening tests that can head off serious conditions are performed or arranged.

Those screenings can be lifesavers for women who sometimes forget to do monthly breast exams, or men who’d otherwise put off a routine prostate exam.

That annual wellness exam is also an opportunity to discuss your overall health goals. Maybe you want to improve your sleep habits or take up a new sport. Your primary care physician can offer advice on how to achieve your health goals.

Finally, that yearly visit reinforces your relationship with your primary care provider – so they know you

well when you need them most.