Having a primary care physician (PCP) can take much of the stress and uncertainty out of receiving healthcare. Yet a recent study found that the number of Americans with a PCP dropped by two percent between 2002 and 2015. If you are one of the millions of Americans without a PCP, learn about the benefits of primary care and why having a PCP is essential for your health.
A PCP is your first point of care and is trained to diagnose and treat a multitude of common conditions, such as sinus infections, urinary tract infections, the flu and more. They can also help you manage chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes and other health problems. Your PCP can address any health concerns that may come up and then refer and coordinate care with specialists when necessary.
Prevention and Maintenance
A study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that adults who have PCPs are significantly more likely to receive high-value care, such as colonoscopies and mammograms. Likewise, the percentage of people getting diagnostic and preventive tests such as blood pressure checks also rises with primary care, and people are more likely to fill prescriptions and receive routine checkups as well as annual flu shots. This all adds up to a more positive healthcare experience.
Ongoing, Convenient Care
By establishing a relationship with a PCP, you may feel more comfortable going to the doctor, as you’ll be seeing a familiar face who is already aware of your medical history and any ongoing health issues. You’ll also have a partner in your healthcare journey, someone who can advocate for you, answer any questions that arise and coordinate all aspects of your care. For example, if you need hospital care or rehabilitation, your PCP can provide support and guide you through any necessary processes.
Many primary care facilities also make it easy to communicate with your doctor by offering secure online patient portals, where you can ask non-urgent questions, view test results and make appointments.