Establishing an ongoing relationship with a Primary Care Provider (PCP) that you trust is one of the most important steps you can take to improve your long-term health and wellbeing. However, nearly 17% of adults in Utah reported that they did not have a PCP in 2021.
Even if you are young and healthy, Primary Care is something every individual and family should prioritize. From treating acute illnesses like the flu to helping manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure, PCPs are critical to helping you stay healthy, avoid the hospital/ ER, and meet your long-term health goals.
Read on to learn more about why everyone needs an established PCP.
What is a Primary Care Provider?
A PCP is a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant who cares for you or your family’s health needs on an ongoing basis. Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics all fall under the umbrella of Primary Care.
In general, PCPs perform routine physicals and checkups to establish a baseline for your health based on your heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, weight, etc. They also provide personalized health recommendations based on your medical history to keep you healthy and ward off disease.
Here are five reasons to establish a relationship with a PCP today:
PCPs improve your adherence to medication and treatment plans.
Consistently following your doctor’s treatment plan is one of the best ways to avoid the hospital/emergency room and prevent chronic illness. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that adults with a PCP were significantly more likely to:
- Fill their prescriptions.
- Engage in routine preventive visits.
- Receive more high-value care such as cancer screenings.
If you have a trusted PCP, you’re more likely to follow through and stick to your care plan because you have someone holding you accountable and helping you reach your goals.
PCPs provide high-value, preventive care.
Primary care offerings such as annual physicals, cancer screenings, weight management and others all contribute to disease prevention and help keep you out of more costly settings like the hospital or ER.
Many PCPs, including those at Revere Health, practice a concept called value-based care. This is a system of medicine that focuses on care that results in positive health outcomes while at the same time keeping costs in mind by reducing unnecessary medical spending.
If your PCP practices value-based care, you can be confident that any recommended treatments or screenings will be medically necessary and will contribute to improving your overall health and preventing future problems.
PCPs know your medical history and act as your health advocates.
As your relationship grows, your PCP will become more familiar with your medical history and be able to provide highly personalized care recommendations. They will also become a trusted ally and source of medical information. Because healthcare is highly personal, it’s important that your PCP is someone you trust and who listens to your concerns. A good PCP will involve you in the healthcare decision-making process and empower you through education and clear communication.
PCPs can help with more than you might think.
PCPs are equipped to handle much more than a once-a-year checkup. In most cases, PCPs should be your first line of defense for non-emergency issues. When possible, visit your PCP first for issues such as:
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- Respiratory Infections
- Cold/Flu Symptoms
- General Health Questions
- Diabetes Management
- Weight Loss Goals
- Depression, Anxiety, or Stress Management (less severe cases)
PCPs will also recommend cancer screenings based on your age and medical history as well as make sure you are up to date on all your vaccinations. Some PCPs even offer same-day appointments, so you don’t have to put your health on hold.
PCPs help coordinate care.
Even if PCPs are not equipped to handle complex issues themselves, they will know where to refer you so that you get the best care. For example, if you go to your PCP for a respiratory issue, he/she can determine the severity of the condition and refer you to pulmonologist for more advanced treatment if needed. However, if the condition is not severe, your PCP may be able to give you medication or treat the condition right then and there, saving you the time and expense of visiting a specialist.
Additionally, many signs of chronic illness aren’t noticeable during acute visits to urgent care or the emergency room. But an annual visit with your PCP—especially one who knows your medical history—can help detect those conditions in their earliest stages when they are easiest and least expensive to treat. In essence, your PCP can act as your guide through the healthcare system and help you get the right care in the right place and at the right time.
If you are one of the 17% of Utahns who doesn’t have a PCP, or if you are looking for a new doctor, Revere Health offers complete healthcare at any stage of life for patients throughout urban and rural Utah. Click here for a list of Family Medicine locations at Revere Health.