Patient visiting their primary care doctor.

Does a Primary Care Doctor Help Overall Health?

Having a trusted primary care doctor (or primary care physician) is essential for your individual healthcare needs

One – it’s comforting to know that you have a physician who knows your medical history, from vaccinations and minor illnesses to conditions and health issues that you live with on an ongoing basis. Two – studies show that having a primary care doctor leads to better health outcomes at lower costs! But, there’s more to it than just that.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the reasons why you need a trusted primary care doctor.

A Primary Care Doctor is Your Home Base

Primary care doctors (PCPs) serve as a home base for your overall health care. They help you manage chronic conditions, like diabetes or asthma, that require ongoing treatment and monitoring. They also coordinate care and handle referrals to specialists, like cardiologists and endocrinologists, to ensure that the most appropriate treatments are being used. 

These aspects of primary care are important because if a certain treatment isn’t working well, or if you’ve developed some sort of complication, your doctor can quickly switch gears and find an alternative path to a better outcome. 

Insurance Knowledge

As an added benefit, a primary care doctor and their office staff can likely provide helpful insight when it comes to navigating overall health insurance coverage (making sure that necessary benefits are covered by your plan, making sure all claims are accurate, helping to answer questions, and providing an understanding of copayments or deductibles). In general, they help you navigate the complexities of the healthcare system

Primary Care Doctors Track Your Chronic Conditions

Chronic conditions are health problems that are ongoing. They’re frequently managed by a primary care doctor who monitors and treats them over time. For these situations, a PCP can act as the main point of contact for you and your family, coordinating necessary medications or procedures with experts in other specialties.

Screenings and Tests

If you have chronic health conditions, like diabetes or high cholesterol, it’s important to make sure those issues stay under control. Your primary care doctor makes sure that you get the right tests and screenings at regular intervals. For example, if your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, your primary care doctor can order a fasting blood test to check for diabetes. If your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is too low, then your primary care doctor may order a lipid panel test to determine whether treatment is needed.

For some people with chronic illnesses, regular visits with their primary care provider are enough to keep their condition under control; others need more specialized attention – in which case it would be appropriate for them to see both their PCP and a specialist. Whether seeing both types of doctors for a particular condition is necessary depends on each person’s individual situation and needs. However, most people should see their PCP at least yearly to make sure they receive important preventative care services, such as immunizations or screenings.

Types of Primary Care Doctors

Primary doctors can be generalists or can specialize in family medicine, internal medicine or pediatrics, providing preventive care and medical care for adults, children and the elderly. 

Family Medicine

This type of doctor is trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of illnesses in both adults and children. Some family doctors, or family physicians, have additional expertise in areas like geriatrics, women’s health or sports medicine.

Internal Medicine

Internal medicine physicians specialize in diagnosing, treating and managing adult patients with a wide range of acute or chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, asthma or osteoporosis (bone loss). They are also trained to diagnose and manage complex medical problems (like kidney disease) or treatment-related side effects (like nausea from chemotherapy).

Pediatrics

Pediatricians diagnose and treat common childhood illnesses as well as provide routine physical exams for children up until they reach adulthood.

Early Diagnosis and Treatment is Critical

A primary care doctor helps you get the right treatment as early as possible. This is especially important with certain diseases, such as cancer, where treatment is more effective if started early. For example, if (through examination) your primary care doctor suspects that cancer might be present, he or she will order a cancer screening

Early diagnosis also helps to prevent diseases from progressing and may even prevent complications like pain or amputation later on. In other words: If you have a health concern now, seeing your healthcare provider and getting treatment can keep issues from becoming worse – and that could save your life!

Preventive Care Services 

Many primary care doctors also provide preventive care services, such as vaccinations or screenings for conditions including high blood pressure or diabetes. So, it’s important to choose a doctor who will make sure you’ve had the most recent vaccinations and screenings recommended by your age group.

Women’s Health Services

Primary care physicians can also provide women’s health services, which can include screenings like mammograms, gynecological care, counseling and care specific to women’s medical needs

Form A Long-Term Relationship with Your Primary Care Provider

Visiting a primary care doctor regularly helps to foster a long-term relationship with a provider who knows your medical history. When you establish a relationship with a primary care physician, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your health and work together to find solutions. Your primary care doctor can help coordinate a variety of medical services for you, even if they’re spread across multiple specialties or facilities.

In addition to being able to provide thorough care for acute or chronic conditions, paying a visit to a primary care doctor on a regular basis (at least annually) can help you learn about new developments in the prevention and treatment of the latest conditions and diseases (even if you are not experiencing any symptoms).

Primary care doctors often have years of experience working with patients of all ages. Their familiarity with the health history of their patients means that they are skilled at spotting things that are out of the ordinary for that particular patient.

For example, if you don’t normally get sick more than once every few years but this year it’s been constant, your primary care doctor may be able to help identify what is causing your illness. He or she could refer you to a specialist who can treat whatever issue arises and determine whether or not there is something else going on that needs attention (such as an underlying medical condition).

Get a PCP Health Partner!

If you don’t have a primary care doctor, or if it’s been awhile since your last physical, maybe it’s time to make an appointment! A primary care doctor is trained to deal with just about anything that comes up in your life, from annual checkups and vaccinations to routine screenings and providing guidance on how to manage chronic conditions.

You’ll stop wondering why you need a primary care doctor when you discover Meridian HealthCare. We put the health of you and your family members at the forefront! If you’re looking for a primary care doctor, look no further. Contact us today!