Everyone can benefit from regular medical care from a primary care provider. A primary care physician ensures you get the care you need when you need it and allows you to treat unexpected health issues before they become significant concerns. In addition to medical relief, a primary care physician can give you greater peace of mind that you have a care option at all times.
What Is a Primary Care Doctor?
A primary care physician is often the main contact for their patient’s basic medical care. Since primary care physicians see their patients regularly, they know them very well and have a greater understanding of their medical history and needs.
Generally, a primary care physician aids in minimizing paperwork and can assist with patient history retrieval. Primary care physicians can recommend different treatment options and improve your overall quality of life.
Why Should You Go to a Primary Care Doctor?
One way to think of your primary care doctor is as your guide through the various health care options available to you. Going to a primary care doctor offers many benefits, like giving you the knowledge and resources to help you continue your journey to a healthier life. Some additional reasons to go to a primary care doctor include the following:
- Receive routine screenings: Your primary care physician will order blood work annually to screen for common health concerns such as cholesterol, blood sugar and liver function.
- Improve communication: Communication is vital for any patient-doctor relationship, and it’s easier to have open and ongoing conversations with a doctor you see regularly.
- Require fewer hospital and ER visits: Individuals who keep regular appointments with their primary care doctors are less likely to visit the hospital or ER, as they can receive treatment for the symptoms as soon as they appear.
- Have one location for all your health history: Since your doctor keeps a record of your health history, this can help ease the referral process. They will already have all the information the specialist needs for effective care.
- Lower health care costs: Regularly seeing your primary care provider can help reduce your overall health care costs, as you are more likely to stop severe illnesses from developing.
- Stay healthy: Taking care of your health involves many aspects, and visiting the doctor is one of them. Adding primary care doctor visits to your routine makes you more likely to complete other tasks, like taking and refilling medications and getting cancer screenings.
- Get access to specialists: Primary care doctors have access to an entire network of specialists for various needs and can work with these specialists to determine the best care plan for you.
- Establish a medical home: A medical home is a provider you can turn to for needs such as treatment for an acute illness, a prescription refill or a physical.
- Manage chronic illness: Chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis are extremely common and require the help of a primary care provider to keep them under control. By working closely with a primary care physician, you will have a guide to help you navigate your illness and stay healthy.
- Monitor your health: Your primary care doctor is there for you when you are healthy and sick and will work with you to help you improve or maintain your current quality of life.
Types of Primary Care Doctors
While primary care doctors are mainly for general health care, they can cater to various health needs. Some different types of primary care doctors include:
- Family practice physicians: Family medicine physicians are ideal for any family size, as they have the qualifications to care for patients ranging from infants to elders.
- Geriatricians: Geriatricians care for older adults and can specifically address chronic illness, health maintenance and illness prevention.
- Obstetrics and gynecology: Obstetrics and gynecology serves women, including pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant. This field can assist with nutrition, exercise and lifestyle guidance for the mother and baby.
- Pediatricians: Pediatricians are doctors who treat infants, children and adolescents. If your children are under 21, you can choose a pediatrician as your primary care physician.
- Internal medicine physicians: Internal medicine physicians are an excellent option for adult patients, as they deal with issues such as diagnosis, disease prevention and health promotion to stay on top of all health conditions.
How to Choose the Right Primary Care Doctor
Finding the right primary care doctor starts with deciding what is most important to you in the doctor-patient relationship. You will also have practical considerations, like the office’s distance from your home and your overall impressions of the provider. Some other essential considerations when choosing a primary care doctor include:
Is Your Doctor in Your Network?
If you have health insurance and want to choose an in-network doctor, search for a primary care provider by finding out which physicians are under coverage from your health care plan.
If you don’t have health care and plan to pay for all visits out of pocket, you will want to talk to your doctor’s office about the cost of future visits to make a payment plan.
Do Your Family and Friends Have Any Recommendations?
Friends, family and colleagues are all excellent sources of information for great doctors in the area. You can also speak to other health professionals, such as pharmacists and dentists, to gain their opinion about other doctors you may want to see.
Is It Easy to Get to Your Doctor?
Before choosing a primary care doctor, you will want to consider the following:
- The practice’s distance from your office, home or school
- How easy it is to find safe and inexpensive parking
- How long the trip takes using public transportation or your car
Any difficulties you may face in reaching your primary care provider should play a role in determining whether the office is the right option for your needs.
Does Your Doctor Have Availability When You Need It?
If you work full time, care for children or other individuals or have limited availability, you want to ensure the primary care office you choose can accommodate these concerns. Some of your main considerations should include the following:
- What hours are the practice open?
- Does the office have evening, weekend or on-call services?
- How long is the office’s waiting time before you see your doctor?
It is also a good idea to inquire if your primary care doctor offers telemedicine or an online hub where you can quickly communicate with the office.
What Is the Practice’s Environment Like?
When you visit your primary care provider’s office for the first time, take a moment to look around. Is the waiting room clean and calm? Does all the medical equipment work correctly? Since you will be spending significant time at this medical office over the years, you want to ensure it is a calm and peaceful place to receive care.
Find Primary Care Doctors Near Your Home With First Docs
First Docs is proud to provide compassionate, personalized care to all patients. Our expert primary care providers utilize the most current care methods for all individuals to offer accessible and continuous care for our patients and communities. If you seek to learn more about our world-class system of care, we invite you to request an appointment today!