The term “primary care provider” is commonly used in healthcare. But, what exactly is it, and why is it so important that you have one? Primary care providers are doctors, nurse practitioners or physician assistants that serve as your main medical contact. In fact, a primary care provider — who may come from family medicine or internal medicine, depending on your needs — is specialized in diagnosing, treating and preventing a wide variety of conditions.
Without a primary care provider, you may either ignore medical problems or visit the emergency room for an illness that doesn’t really require emergency care. Neither is the best choice! Having a primary care provider helps you focus more on staying healthy, instead of only seeking help when you are sick or hurt. Your practitioner becomes your health coach, showing you better ways to stay healthy and live longer. Here are 7 main reasons to find a primary care provider:
Provide Acute Care
Primary care can diagnosis and treat up to 85% of services that present to them without a referral. Building a trusting relationship is important in acute and ongoing medical care.
Better Preventive Care
One of the main responsibilities of a primary care provider is preventive care. A primary care provider can make recommendations that will help you protect your health. The practitioner can get to know you, your history and family history and recommend the screenings needed, and identify and treat many minor problems before they become major ones.
Continuity of Care
Having a competent primary care provider offers a continuity of care that health maintenance over a lifetime requires. The practitioner can treat the “whole person,” taking into account your history and existing conditions. Timely diagnosis increases the chances that you will be able to lead a longer and more productive life.
A Central Point of Contact
A primary care provider coordinates information between other healthcare providers. All healthcare that is done by specialty providers gets funneled through the primary care provider’s office to assist when you have questions, or are getting conflicting reports. Primary care providers can also make sure there is no duplication of care and testing, and that nothing is being left out.
A Key Resource
A primary care provider should be the first person in the healthcare system that you contact when you have a question or a problem. The practitioner can provide answers or can recommend a specialist to meet your needs. The primary care provider can also help you find other resources, such as support groups and classes.
Fewer Trips to the ER
Research has shown that regular visits to a primary care provider initiate more proactive healthcare measures and significantly decrease the instances of emergency room visits while also improving your quality of life. A primary care physician can offer options that can help prevent you from making unnecessary trips to the emergency room. For example, your doctor may be able to answer questions about a condition, or may call in a prescription or suggest a course of action that can be taken at home.
Coordinated Care = Better Quality & Lower Costs
As the medical, specialty and mental health fields continue to change, coordination between your primary care provider and other practitioners has become increasingly important. Without effective communication between different health care providers, you may experience delays in care, misdiagnosis, incorrect or unnecessary treatment, and potentially higher health care costs. Part of the task of a primary care provider is to help you navigate through the healthcare system.
Through a Coordinated Care Model (an integrated system where providers work together to coordinate a patient’s care), there is greater efficiency and less waste. Those paying for healthcare get a better value, and those receiving healthcare get higher quality care at a price we can all afford. With a focus on primary care and prevention, health plans and their providers using the Coordinated Care Model are able to better manage chronic conditions and keep people healthy and out of the emergency room. This is great for your health and your pocketbook.
New patients are welcome at Medical Associates Clinic. To help you get started, we have Welcome Center staff who can answer your questions about our healthcare network, help you choose a provider, make an appointment, and assist you in transferring medical records. You can reach our New Patient Welcome Center Phone by calling (563) 584-4700.
Medical Associates participates with a large selection of insurance providers. Please check with your insurance company to obtain a listing of network participating providers.