4 Important Reasons to Have a Primary Care Physician
Primary care is a branch of American healthcare that has historically been undervalued and underused. Many people don’t realize the profound health benefits that accompany having a designated primary care doctor as their first stop for all their healthcare needs.
A primary care physician (PCP) is a generalist who treats common acute and chronic conditions, and also utilizes a “whole person” and “big picture” mindset to connect the dots when it comes to problems that arise throughout the course of one’s lifetime.
The most valuable and often overlooked benefits of having a primary care physician include disease prevention, cost savings, continuity of care, and telehealth appointments.
Having a designated PCP can help keep you healthy by using prevention measures to catch underlying conditions early through the use of screenings, lab tests, physical and mental assessments, and the ability to analyze your medical data over several years to spot and track any abnormalities.
Studies have shown that people with a PCP were 19% less likely to die prematurely than those who only saw specialists.
Checking in with a PCP regularly for the following situations can help prevent serious illness down the road:
- Non-emergency needs
- Common illnesses (cold)
2. Cost savings
It is well documented that treating a severe illness is significantly more expensive than investing in primary care, which can help prevent the development of acute and chronic disease.
Studies have shown that it is four times more costly to treat a condition in the emergency department then in an outpatient setting, and utilizing a PCP has shown to result in a 33% cost savings compared to those who only seek specialized care.
A North Carolina emergency department found that 60% of its patient visits could have easily been treated in a primary care setting. Nationwide, those unnecessary visits account for $67 billion dollars every year.
3. Continuity of care
Routine visits with a consistent doctor can establish a PCP as the gatekeeper and centralized hub for a patient’s healthcare needs. This allows quality relationships to be formed, data to be captured and analyzed, and early signs of illness or disease to be caught before they progress into something serious. PCP doctors can also schedule, manage, and follow-up with any specialists that have contributed to the patient's care.
Some of the most common illnesses and diseases that PCPs can help prevent and treat include:
- High cholesterol
- Depression and anxiety
- Alzheimer's disease
- Heart disease
Telemedicine has emerged as one of the most beneficial ways to provide healthcare during a pandemic, as well as reaching populations that may not be able to physically come into a doctor’s office.
Many PCP offices have embraced the use of telehealth, and since the start of COVID-19, virtual healthcare has accounted for more than 20% of medical visits in 2020, which correlates to $29 billion dollars in virtual healthcare services.
The largest patient benefits of telehealth include:
- Improvement in patient engagement with remote monitoring
- Expanded access to care and greater patient reach
- Decrease in patient costs
- Improved healthcare quality
- Improved patient satisfaction
- Increased appointment attendance
Types of primary care doctors
There are a couple different types of doctors that provide primary care and are trained to treat a broad spectrum of patients and illnesses. The main types of PCPs include family medicine doctors, internal medicine doctors, pediatricians, and nurse practitioners.
Family medicine doctors
Family medicine doctors are unique because they are trained to treat the entire family from children to grandparents, and everyone in between. Having a trusted doctor establish a relationship with the entire family can be a huge benefit.
Internal medicine doctors, also called internists, treat only the adult population from early adulthood through old age. They are well-trained in both simple and complex conditions that affect the adult population, including high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
The number of nurse practitioners working in the primary care setting is on the rise, and they are a wonderful way to supplement the need for more PCPs across the nation. Nurse practitioners can perform most services that a physician can provide and often at a lower cost and have shown to improve care and patient satisfaction.
Pediatricians are experts in treating children from birth to early adulthood and are proficient in minor injuries and illnesses, complex medical conditions found in children, as well as specialists in childhood development, milestones, and adolescent mental health issues.
At Tripment, we believe that healthcare can be done better, and it starts with helping people find a primary care physician that fits their needs. Contact us to learn more about the services we provide to pair you with a trusted primary care physician in your area.
- Amy Isler, RNWhat’s in a Title: Different Types of Healthcare Providers & What They DoChoosing an experienced primary care physician is an important decision that can be both intimidating and confusing. In your search, you will probably come across providers who have different titles and hold different licenses and certifications that you may not fully understand.
- Amy Isler, RNWhat Is Direct Primary Care & How Does it Work?Direct Primary Care utilizes the subscription/membership platform that many have become familiar with over the past several years and applies it to the healthcare setting, where primary care physicians charge their patients a monthly, quarterly, or annual subscription or membership fee.