There's no denying that health is everyone's utmost concern. However, it would be best to have a trusted professional to reach out regarding your medical issues. This is someone who can provide you with treatment, give you the best health care advice to nurture your overall health and keep catastrophic illnesses at bay.
Primary care is what you need to address all your healthcare concerns. This is because primary care physicians play such a crucial role in our health and well-being.
In this blog, we share everything you need to know about what primary care physicians do, what role they play in your health care journey, and why it is fundamental to have a primary care physician you can trust.
A primary care physician is a medical professional dedicated to general medicine and routine care. They prevent, address, and diagnose a comprehensive array of illnesses and other medical conditions.
For example, if you have hypertension, periodic migraines, a fever, or even a rash that is starting to bother you, you can turn to your primary care physician to help get to the bottom of things.
The most important role your primary care physician plays is to nip potential illnesses in the bud before they lead to physically and financially catastrophic situations.
About comprehensiveness, your primary care physician can address long-term chronic health problems, like diabetes or hypertension, as well as acute conditions, such as allergic reactions and the flu.
Your primary care physician is the person to rely on when it comes to routine check-ups or acute medical situations. In addition, should you require any further specialized care, you can count on your primary care physician to refer you to a trusted specialist.
Primary care physicians are also well-equipped to guide you through any medical decisions and ensure that you receive seamlessly with other treatments you are currently undergoing.
If you find yourself in a medical situation that might require hospital confinement or a trip to the ER, a quick call to your primary care physician can help shed light on what steps you should take next.
You can trust your primary care physician to keep you up-to-date with routine services such as cancer screenings, recommended diagnostic procedures, diabetes care, vaccines, weight management counselling, and other preventive medical treatment.
Expect your primary care physician to regularly check for high blood pressure, heart disease symptoms, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer symptoms, developmental disorders, immunization standing, and many more.
You are also welcome to seek medical advice from your primary care physician for pain management and injury care. In many respects, primary care physicians can perform functions such as:
If you have conditions like diabetes or heart problems, which require long-term health management, your primary care physician can care for you in the following ways:
When you make it a habit to see your primary care physician, you redeem various important benefits as a patient. Here are some of the reasons why establishing a relationship with your primary care physician can do wonders for your daily life:
Your primary care physician is your number one ally when it comes to early disease diagnosis. It is a widely known fact that the chances of recovery are much higher when a disease is detected early. Seeing your primary care physician frequently lowers the chances of ER trips, catastrophic illnesses, and premature deaths.
This is especially valuable for patients who have chronic conditions. A primary care physician can design a long-term health management plan that factors your diet, daily schedule, and other lifestyle needs.
Case in point, a primary care physician, can be of service to patients who have chronic heart problems via routine screenings and maintenance medication – alternatives that are less taxing and more affordable than surgery.
Not only does your primary care physician help curb catastrophic illnesses, but they also keep financially paralyzing medical situations at bay. For example, keeping patients out of the ER is considered a medical win for primary care physicians because hospital care costs twice as much as preventive care.
For instance, when left untreated chronic heart problems often lead to surgery, which can cost anywhere from $44,000-$55,000, depending on which hospital you are admitted to.
There are many different primary care practices designed to extend preventive/routine care to patients like you. These primary care physicians have in common that they all treat a wide array of medical issues and facilitate coordination with other specialists if needed.
Family medicine doctors treat patients of all ages. This primary care physician is specially trained in adult medicine, paediatrics, obstetrics, geriatrics, and musculoskeletal care. True to its name, family medicine doctors can treat multiple family members for any long-term or acute conditions that require attention.
Primary care physicians in the internal medicine practice also treat acute and chronic conditions but specialize in adult patients. In this regard, they are generally knowledgeable in medical areas such as neurology, orthopedics, rheumatology, endocrinology, geriatrics, and rehabilitation.
Pediatricians are primary care physicians who specialize in infants, children, and teenagers up to 21 years of age. They are well-trained in the wellness, development, diagnosis, and treatment of the youth.
This primary care physician's area of expertise is treating senior citizens. Their advanced training allows them to be proficient in insomnia, dementia, balance problems, and other health conditions normally observed in older adults.
This type of primary care physician specializes in women's health. They are specially trained in reproductive health, childbirth, pregnancy, and post-partum conditions. It is not unheard of for this type of primary care physician to offer general health services as well, while others offer purely female reproductive health services only.
Some primary care practices have nurse practitioners, and physician assistants treat patients as well. These primary care physicians are highly trained professionals with a master's degree, certification, and state licensure.
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants normally report to a physician, and approximately half of the states in the country require physician oversight for nurse practitioners.
As of writing, there are three main ways to gain access to a primary care physician:
Choosing a primary care physician via a health insurance plan is one we are all familiar with. Unfortunately, this method typically charges a fee for every service a patient avails. Health insurance plans are paid for by monthly premiums, and most plans are sold under the premise that they will cover the bulk of your health care expenses.
The only downside is that the reality of health insurance is eons away from what it was originally cut out to be. Many insurance companies are notorious for charging unexpected out-of-pocket charges on top of exorbitantly expensive premiums.
In many insurance plans, patients are also expected to settle copay fees whenever they need to visit their primary care physician. Unfortunately, these nuances have been more than enough to convince Americans to steer clear of primary care in fear of incurring medical debt.
The sad reality is that many Americans are left with little to no access to primary care because of the traditional, insurance-based system – which brings us to the verdict that, yes, this may not necessarily be the best method to find the perfect primary care physician for you.
Moreover, most primary care physicians in the traditional, insurance-based system are known to be burnt out and overbooked – leaving them without the luxury to sit down and get to know their patients.
For patients who do not have insurance, walk-in clinics are available for more routine, less urgent health issues. In addition, you can see a primary care physician for minor issues and be billed at the time of your visit.
In some areas, community health clinics are also available for patients with little to no funds to spend on primary care. These community health clinics provide the most necessary routine care, such as diagnostic screenings and vaccines, for a fraction of the cost.
A stark contrast to the traditional, insurance-based system, membership-based models like Direct Primary Care and Concierge Medicine are the most viable methods in finding a primary care physician you can trust.
In addition, more and more primary care physicians are turning to this new form of practice because it allows them the privilege of spending time with their patients.
With a Direct Primary Care (DPC) or Concierge Medicine subscription, patients get 24/7 unrestricted access to their primary care physician. One of the major factors that have put this new health care model in the spotlight is that all transactions are settled directly between primary care physicians and their patients.
Instead of dealing with the frustrating web of billing codes and malicious methods mandated by insurance companies, primary care physicians in the DPC practice can provide their patients with affordable, high-quality patient care.
In addition, a Concierge Medicine/ DPC subscription comes with a selection of value-added benefits, which make a relationship between primary care physicians and their patients even more priceless. Some of these benefits include heavily discounted out-patient services and medication at wholesale cost.
In a traditional primary care clinic, flu vaccines normally cost $65, whereas the same vaccine in a DPC clinic will only cost you $16. Antihistamine medicine like Cetirizine can cost you up to $14.43 for a 10-mg dosage, while many DPC clinics can dispense it for only $1.08.
Here are the few things that you need to consider while choosing a primary care physician:
When choosing a primary care physician, a very practical consideration is how far you have to travel to visit them. Remember that the goal is to make seeing your primary care physician a habit, so you have to make sure it is as convenient for you as possible.
Scouring reviews from fellow patients can do wonders when choosing a primary care physician that is right for you. Are they available to their patients when they are needed most? Are they easy to reach for medical advice, whether via call, text, online, or face-to-face? You can ask other patients some questions before you decide to go with a primary care physician.
Health care expenses are, of course, a major factor to consider when choosing a primary care physician. However, whether your primary care physicians are part of a DPC subscription or an out-of-pocket expense, it should never leave you financially paralyzed.
Once you have determined how much you can spend on primary care, the next factor to determine is whether you want your primary care physician visits to fall under your insurance plan.
There are pros and cons to doing this – although the rule of thumb is to keep your insurance plans basic (covering catastrophic illnesses and hospitalization expenses only) and entrust all primary care and routine services to a Direct Primary Care physician.
Are you comfortable enough to discuss personal health matters to your primary care physician? Is he/she able to communicate diagnosis and treatments clearly to you? The answers to these questions are crucial in building a lasting, sincere relationship with your primary care physician.
Medical expertise, booking procedures, payment terms – all of these factors (and more) can vary from one primary care physician to another. Therefore, it's always best to find out prior if the primary care physician's training background and practice guidelines are a good fit for your own health care needs and personal preferences.
When looking for a primary care physician, several factors are considered: Location, qualifications, personal care needs, etc. Making exceptional healthcare accessible to patients is an ultimate goal for a Primary Care Physician.
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Allergies are one of the most commonly encountered conditions in a primary care clinic. Primacy care physicians perform several kinds of allergy testing – skin testing, blood tests, food challenges, patch test, medication challenges, etc.
Most primary care physicians usually do not perform ultrasounds unless they have been specifically trained. However, if performed accurately, ultrasounds in primary care can help early diagnosis and management.
Primary care physicians prescribe Adderall to treat their patients who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is a stimulant medication; it is a combination of amphetamine/dextroamphetamine.
Primary care physicians do not perform surgery. Primacy care physicians are trained in internal medicine or family medicine residency programs and do not have surgical training.
STD screening is a commonly performed test at a primary care physician's clinic. A primary care doctor could order one of more tests (HIV, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Trichomonas, Hepatitis C, genital warts, etc.) to screen for STD based on the patient's history.
Primary care physicians prescribe anxiety medications to their patient that suffer from an anxiety disorder. Medications like Xanax help in the short term, and medications like Zoloft help in the long term.
Primary care physicians are trained to administer joint injections can give cortisone shots to their patients suffering from joint pains. These shots can help with back pain, gout, osteoarthritis, various types of inflammatory arthritis, tendonitis, etc.
Primary care physicians prescribe birth control. There are various birth control strategies like pills, intrauterine devices, subcutaneous implants, physical barriers methods, and other physiological methods.
Primary care physicians remove warts using various treatments such as cryotherapy, salicylic acid, electrosurgery. Sometimes, if the wart is too large or has some complications, the patient is referred to a general surgeon for further treatment.
Many primary care physicians accept Medicare plans. However, you should always check with the doctor's office to verify if they accept medicare.
You can have multiple primary care physicians. That being said, you should do this only if you cannot receive the required care from one physician.
OBGYN is usually not a primary care physician. However, in rare instances, they might attend to the primary care needs of patients in very rural areas that have no access to regular primary care physicians.
Primary care physicians can prescribe testosterone. However, if a patient suffers from a complicated hormonal condition, it is better to receive testosterone treatment from an endocrinologist or a urologist.
A primary care physician is a medical professional devoted to general medicine, preventive care, as well as routine care. They are, most often, a patient’s first point of contact when it comes to seeking medical treatment.
Primary care physicians diagnose and address common acute conditions, such as body pain or fever, as well as chronic conditions, such as asthma, hypertension, and the like.
Primary care physicians order COVID-19 testing when their patients present with symptoms concerning a viral infection. There are several types of COVID-19 testing, and RT-PCR is the most common one.
Pap smears are a screening test that can help prevent cervical cancer or help early detection. Primary care physicians do pap smears in women that belong to the 21 to 65-year-old age group.
There are no rules that say you cannot have more than one primary care physician, although one should take note that building a doctor-patient relationship is a commitment. Having two primary care physicians means there are two doctors you have to keep updated about the details of your health.
Most of what a primary care physician does adheres to preventive care – treating acute conditions before they get worse, managing any existing chronic condition, as well as keeping any debilitating illnesses at bay.
A primary care physician (PCP) is a type of doctor that is involved with preventive or routine care. They are the kind of doctor patients turn to when they need treatment for acute conditions (like a runny nose or an infection) or when they need help managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Apart from primary care physicians and general practitioners, family medicine doctors, internal medicine doctors, nurses, and physician assistants are also considered primary care providers.