Why do you need a primary care doctor? These days, there is such a goldmine of healthcare options and alternative treatments that navigating medical issues can be completely overwhelming. If that is how you feel, this article should give you peace of mind. Key to making sense of the medical information overload is having a primary care doctor for guidance.
If you live in Clinton County, mid-Michigan, you may be trying to figure out whether you need a primary care doctor whose specialty is family medicine to care for your loved ones’ needs. At the Clinton County Medical Center, our providers take pride in what they do and will gladly help you and your family get on track to healthier lives.
The Role of a Primary Care Doctor
A Primary Care Physician (PCP) considers their patients’ belief system, values, and choices, not just the symptoms of their ailments. PCPs are qualified to diagnose common health issues, such as headaches, urinary infections, back pain, and respiratory infections. As discussed below, they also manage chronic illnesses and treatment for multiple problems, which may involve administering medications and monitoring their interactions.
Research shows that where patients have a primary care doctor to advise and help them through the confusing labyrinth of medical opinion, they are significantly more inclined than those without a primary care physician (PCP) to have preventive visits and screenings, which might pick up something sinister in the early stages. In addition, those with a PCP are more inclined to have prescriptions refilled to treat problems before they worsen.
A collaborative study between Stanford University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School revealed that access to primary care correlated to longer life expectancy. Having a PCP whose know-how enables them to interpret and give informed advice is invaluable. In many cases, these doctors work as part of a team of practitioners. They may also consult with specialists or refer patients to someone specializing in a specific medical practice area. In some instances, they will also be instrumental in advising the patient and their family on the best course of action relating to care.
Preventive Care Improves Health Outcomes
There are many preventive measures your PCP may suggest.
- Annual check-ups and well-child visits are conducted from birth to age 18.
- Immunizations include annual flu shots, vaccines, and vaccine boosters.
- Colorectal cancer screenings for both sexes
- Cervical cancer and mammograms to screen for breast cancer in women
- Prostate cancer screenings for men
Managing Health Conditions with your Primary Care Doctor
As your first port of call, a PCP will listen to you, answer health-related queries, assess your health issues based on what you tell them and what they know of your family’s health history, and form a diagnosis.
They will treat health problems such as infections, advise on the pros and cons of treatments, and advise about health and lifestyle choices – including eating more nutritious foods, managing stress, and quitting smoking – so that you can take care of your health and help prevent disease.
They may suggest screenings and offer vaccines to help detect and prevent illness before it becomes severe. A PCP can also help manage chronic health problems and assist in finding you a reputable specialist if required.
Why do you Need a Primary Healthcare Physician?
FIRST PORT OF CALL
Having a PCP means you have a general medicine practitioner to turn to, a first stop when you need medical attention, whether it be addressing an illness like the seasonal flu or having routine screenings or blood work done (to assess blood sugar, cholesterol and the functioning of the liver, kidneys, and thyroid.) Your PCP will also conduct physical examinations, discuss birth control options, and refill your prescription.
Since they usually track your health over the years, these practitioners may spot trends and anomalies that can indicate underlying problems and can often judge whether treatments are working effectively.
A SYMPATHETIC EAR
If a good doctor/patient relationship was established during earlier visits, it is often easier to divulge personal information. Patients must communicate clearly about the issues they are facing. Sensitivity and understanding are expected from the PCP as they explain the proposed treatment concisely and easily.
Your PCP usually has some idea of your personality, lifestyle, daily challenges, and treatment preferences. They know your medical history and health status and should also have information about your family’s medical history.
Your PCP is your health advocate, so it is beneficial to you that they have a longstanding relationship with you and know your history so that you don’t have to explain things several times. Since a PCP can answer questions and attend to more than one health problem in a single appointment, patients should not need a second appointment to deal with a couple of issues.
SAVING YOU MONEY
In tough economic circumstances, it is reassuring that regular visits to a PCP with whom you have a positive relationship tend to lower overall healthcare costs. This is likely because illnesses such as cancer and heart disease can be detected through regular screening. If discovered early enough, it stands to reason that treatment will not be as radical or as costly.
Studies also show that if you regularly schedule appointments with a PCP and avail yourself of preventive services – some of which are covered by insurance with no co-pay – you may be able to avert costly prescriptions, visits to the ER, and possibly even hospital care, which in turn, can push up your insurance premiums, leading to high out-of-pocket health care costs. Yet only 8% of Americans are thought to take advantage of routine preventive screenings.
Many people who do not have a PCP as their first port of call tend to delay too long after noticing the initial symptoms. This can lead to ailments like gallstones developing into something more serious and potentially life-threatening, like pancreatitis.
A reliable PCP is the exact resource needed to help you stay healthy. Of course, you may not be sick today, but having someone to monitor your condition will help you remain on top of your game healthwise.
We all have vices that could lead to problems down the line, and factors such as anxiety and stress, lifestyle change, and aging all play a role in our well-being. Having a PCP who regularly monitors conditions’ fluctuations – blood pressure, sugar levels, cholesterol, and weight – allows them to pinpoint changes that should be looked into so that new problems are swiftly identified to avoid complications.
Because PCPs monitor their patient’s health and are often able to detect problems that might indicate chronic diseases such as obesity, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), they are ideally placed to help patients improve their lifestyle, and manage and control chronic illnesses, which should not be under-estimated as these can cause disability and death.
Where the PCP may not have the requisite knowledge, they usually refer patients to an oncologist, neurologist, or specialist. They will pass on medical information to help them form a diagnosis of your condition and a treatment regime.
MAINTAINING YOUR HEALTH RECORDS
To provide a comprehensive picture of your health history to a specialist, it is convenient for a medical authority to have collated an extensive record of laboratory testing and preventive screenings. If you have a PCP, they will ensure these records are on hand as they are usually forwarded to the PCP and stored in a single location.
How to Choose a Primary Care Physician
Whether someone is an apt choice depends on your personality, lifestyle, and requirements. Also important to know is whether or not they accept your medical plan. The area where their rooms are located should be conveniently situated. You may want to visit to get a feel for the staff and their attitudes. If you can schedule a meeting, you may want to ask questions about the PCP’s communication style, feedback on testing, and their qualifications – for instance, are they qualified in primary care, and is their focus on treatment or disease prevention?
You might ask about their treatment approach and how they know when to refer patients to specialists. Also, knowing who you would be seeing if they are away on vacation is important.
Other Factors to Consider:
- What are the office hours?
- Are calls responded to in an efficient, friendly manner?
- How long does it take to get an appointment?
- Are lab tests conducted onsite or nearby?
Finding a Primary Care Physician Near You
At Clinton County Medical Center’s primary care walk-in clinics, located in St. Johns, East Lansing, Howell, Greenville, and Carson City, we have several qualified medical providers, including internal medicine doctors, who work together with physical therapists and counselors to answer the medical questions that may be bothering you.
Internists specialize in adult medicine, the solving of diagnostic issues, and managing complex chronic illnesses.Many of these practitioners hail from mid-Michigan, yet everyone is committed to patient-centered care to help you and your family stay healthy.
Having a medical home at Clinton County Medical Center will help you and your health PCP create an accurate picture of your health, including your conditions, medications administered, coverage, and contact information, so that you can work hand-in-hand towards achieving your health care goals.
Primary Care Services Available in Michigan
Your GP is your first point of contact for all your healthcare needs. At Clinton County Medical Center, our PCPs will be your advocates, coordinating your care and ensuring your safety throughout your journey in the healthcare system. We leave no stone unturned in ensuring all your healthcare needs are met!