It can be difficult to find a suitable primary care physician (PCP). But this type of healthcare practitioner can help an individual maintain and manage their health throughout life. In addition, patients with PCPs have greater access to higher value medical services.
Basics of Primary Care Physicians
The PCP is one’s main doctor. They are responsible for dealing with most of a patient’s healthcare concerns. They can be family doctors, pediatricians, or even internal medicine doctors.
As they practice general medicine, problems that are more complex and severe are referred to the appropriate specialist. This may be a cardiologist, surgeon, or psychiatrist. Save for these cases, they make determinations about current medical concerns and future risks of development. They are also in a position to provide advice and solutions on how to manage and mitigate those risks.
Benefits of Primary Care
Primary care involves first contact and comprehensive, continuous, and coordinated healthcare. Individuals with a PCP experience better treatment and improved access compared to those without a regular physician. PCPs often focus on providing consistent care as a way to prevent the development of the disease.
Primary providers are aware of an individual’s entire medical history and the extent of medical conditions. They can use this information to navigate their provision of care better. This knowledge and the familiar relationship between provider and patient improves the degree of personalized care that the individual receives.
In addition, patients with PCPs are more likely to receive services like regular cancer screenings, diabetes checkups, counseling, and diagnostic testing. Regular checkups mean they can catch potentially serious diseases early on when there is still time to treat them.
A PCP can provide support in managing most chronic medical issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and acid reflux disease. While there are instances when a specialist is involved to manage a patient’s symptoms, they remain a key part of the patient’s healthcare team. They also serve as the primary contact for any guidance or assistance.
Coordination of Care
Should an individual develop complicated medical problems, the primary care physician is responsible for coordinating care. They may have to contact multiple specialist physicians and assist in the development of a treatment plan. They are then responsible for ensuring the plan is followed and the patient receives complementary, compatible, and necessary care from each specialist.
Issues Surrounding PCPs
Unfortunately, patients often face challenges in attempting access to primary care physicians and preventative care. Health insurance plans normally only cover annual physical exams and not the other concerns a patient may have. This means a patient may still have to pay out of pocket.
Additionally, there is a shortage of available PCPs. Medical students normally go for specialty care instead of generalized, primary care. The practice of family medicine may simply be not as attractive as the other medical fields.
A PCP is an important part of keeping an individual healthy throughout their life. Solutions should be found to overcome the obstacles surrounding access to primary care so more individuals can fully realize the extent of the benefits PCP can provide. This way, more patients will experience high-value care.