In a world full of specialists and urgent care, it’s tempting to overlook the most important piece of the health-care puzzle: a primary care doctor. So, what is a primary care physician and why is he or she so critical to taking care of your health?
The types of doctor identified as a primary care physician typically include family practice, internal medicine or general practice. Doctors who focus on children, called pediatricians, serve as the primary care physician for your child.
1) Coordinates and guides your care
If your medical situation begins to get complex, having a primary care doctor to help oversee your overall care is essential. Your doctor can provide recommendations on managing your care, help you focus on a central health plan, and refer you to a trustworthy specialist.
2) Knows you and your history
Primary care doctors often treat a wide range of conditions, so many people stay with their doctor through many stages in life. This helps the physician build a personal, long term relationship with you. Understanding your medical history can help in diagnosing future medical problems.
3) Navigates you through multiple medications
Certain medications can pose a high risk if taken improperly. Your primary care doctor can adjust, replace, or stop medications that are not appropriate for your condition. By assessing prescription drug interactions on a regular basis, your physician can prevent a trip to the emergency room. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one million people visit hospital emergency departments for adverse drug events each year in the United States.
4) Primary care doctor = Preventive care
Your doctor can help you prevent health problems by conducting tests and screenings, assisting with lifestyle changes, and administering vaccines. All Maryland Health Connection plans cover these preventive health services at no additional cost, before you pay your deductible.
5) Saves your money and your life
So, how can seeing a primary care doctor save you money? Easy! Visiting your doctor for preventive care and minor health issues means fewer emergency visits and hospital stays. According to Business Insider, an average hospital stay can cost over $10,000. With a primary care doctor overseeing your care, you can decrease your medical expenses. Early detection of health issues may save your life.