Tag: primary care doctor

Why Having a Primary Care Doctor is Important As You Get Older

male doctor using a stethoscope to take blood pressure of male patient

Having a primary care doctor can be essential to your health. Not only are they there for you when you’re sick, but they are also there to make sure you stay healthy all the time. Here are some important benefits of having a primary care physician as you get older.

1. Lowered Health Care Costs Overall

Seeing your primary care doctor on a regular basis can lower your health care costs. By having regular health screenings and open communication with your doctor, you’re more likely to stop serious illnesses from developing. Treatment at the earliest stages is more affordable.

2. You Receive a More Personalized Treatment

Having a one-on-one established relationship with your doctor helps in maintaining open communication. It’s important to make your needs known and for them to explain your treatment plan in ways that are clear, and easy to follow.

3. (Heading Off) or Managing Chronic Illnesses

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 6 in 10 Americans have a chronic illness, and 4 in 10 have two or more chronic illnesses. Some of the most common chronic illnesses are diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, obesity and heart disease. By working closely with your primary care physician, you can lead a healthier life and keep these illnesses under control and managed.

4. Access to Specialists

Your primary care doctor can provide you with access and referrals to a wide variety of specialists for treatment outside of their scope. They will also provide specialists all the medical information they need to ensure you receive the best treatment available.

5. Overall Health & Wellbeing 

Studies have shown that those who have primary care physicians are actually healthier than those who do not. Those who keep regular appointments with their doctors are hospitalized less and have fewer visits to the ER. Yearly routine health screenings are recommended. Your doctor will order blood work that will check your cholesterol, blood sugar, and other important aspects of your health such as thyroid, kidney and liver function. Checking for serious, chronic illnesses that are caught early on could greatly impact your overall health.

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5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Primary Care Physician

woman sitting across table from her female primary care doctor

When it comes to choosing a primary care physician, there are a number of factors to consider. Your “PCP” oversees all your medical treatments, makes necessary referrals to specialists when needed, and helps build treatment plans for your specific conditions. Choosing a doctor that fits your individual needs is always the best choice. Here are five things to consider when choosing a primary care physician.

1. Training and qualifications

Some questions to ask:

  • Do they have familiarity with your specific medical conditions, especially if they are rare or life-threatening?
  • Do they have hospital privileges and board certifications?
  • Are they cleared to practice at your preferred facilities?

While you might be able to find some of this information online, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor these questions. This will help you assess their communication style and “bedside manner.”

2. Office locations and hours

Some questions to ask:

  • Is their office close to your home or office?
  • Do they offer early morning, evening, or weekend appointments and services?
  • How quickly can you typically get in to see them?
  • Can you email or text them with questions or concerns?
  • Do they take your insurance?

It is important that you can easily get in touch with your doctor and that they are in a convenient location to you.

3. Ask for referrals

Many people feel most comfortable visiting a physician who is recommended by someone they know. Ask around and see who your friends and family visit.

You can also ask a trusted healthcare professional for a recommendation such as your pharmacist, or even your dentist. If you’re moving, ask your current doctor if they have a recommendation for your new location.

4. Is the doctor in your network?

If you have health insurance, choosing an in-network doctor can keep your costs down. Start by finding out which primary care physicians are covered by your plan in your area.

Your insurance plan may allow you to work with a primary care doctor who is out of network, but at a higher cost. Knowing about costs before you need care could help you plan for future visits.

5. Are you more comfortable with a male or female provider?

Your health care is a deeply personal matter. If you’d prefer to seek treatment with a male or female physician, don’t hesitate to express your preference. Being comfortable with your provider is key in getting the best possible individualized health care.

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