Why do I need a primary care provider?

GCH_Family_233If you’re very healthy, you may ask yourself, why have primary care? What is the value of a primary care provider?

A primary care provider is the key to good health. You’re even asked to select a primary care provider when choosing health insurance. Start by establishing a relationship with a clinician, such as a physician or physician assistant, who goes beyond just getting to know you personally, but allows the provider to give you healthcare solutions that are specifically tailored to you. After all, you are unique and your healthcare should be too!

Four benefits of having a primary care provider

Better to know you! Your provider will be more familiar with your family history, your medical history and your current health status. With this knowledge, if an incident were to occur, even back pain or an injury, your provider will be better equipped to treat you. Without a primary care provider, you might rush to find medical care and it will be with someone who may not know you well. Working with a primary care provider allows you to receive better, more personalized care and for your provider to make more educated decisions on your behalf.

Screenings. It can’t be said enough that detecting problems early increases your chances for better care and treatment. For example, colon cancer screenings can often detect the disease at an early, more treatable stage and prevent some colon cancers altogether. Routine screenings for colon cancer, hypertension, and diabetes should be done on a regular basis. Everyone is different, so a “regular basis” may mean something different for you than your best friend. Ask your provider.

Management of chronic conditions. The American Diabetes Association estimates there are 17 million Americans living with diabetes. More troubling is the fact that half of them don’t know they have it. Your primary care provider can manage diabetes and any other chronic condition to improve your quality of life, whether you have just been diagnosed or have been managing your condition for years.

Cost. Let’s face it, preventive care is less costly than emergency room care. So, have your yearly physical, establish a relationship with a provider and when you get sick, go to him or her. This decision makes for the smartest financial choice.

How do I select a primary care provider?

Talk to family and friends. Are they happy with their care? Referrals are often the best way to select a provider, but be sure your specific needs are met.
What are your specific needs? Do you need a provider who has evening or weekend hours, or is bilingual or has an interpreter? Do they have openings the same day for sick appointments? Are you more comfortable with a male or female provider?
Is there a team supporting your provider? Should he/she not be available, who would you be able to see? Is there a team that’s able to coordinate your care? Can they make your appointments with specialists or labs for blood work, if necessary?
Ask questions. Here are a few you should consider: Are you comfortable managing my condition? Do you believe in vaccines? Antibiotics? If not, how will you treat me?
Most important, select someone you can talk to. The more honest you are the better the provider can treat you. Believe us, there’s probably not much they have not heard!

I hope this article has been helpful in explaining the role of a primary care provider. I enjoy being a provider at Geneva Community Health, for I not only get to know my patients but also improve their quality of life. Consistent care by a provider that is familiar with you can put you on a path to good health for the rest of your life. We’d like to be your provider and are here to help. If you’d like to talk further, please call 315.531.9102.

By Jenna Giannelli, Physician Assistant, Geneva Community Health