What is a Primary Care Physician and Why do I Need One?

A Primary Care Physician is often your first step in addressing your healthcare needs.

About 92.8 percent of children in the United States has contact with a health care provider every year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That percentage drops dramatically to 82.1 percent for adults. No matter how healthy you are, it is always a good idea to have a primary care doctor or physician. Besides seeing a familiar face for routine visits, it provides a sense of comfort to have someone you can rely on when you are ill or need medical attention.

In a 10-year study, researchers found that greater access to primary care was directly related to a longer life expectancy. This is because patients who see a primary care physician regularly tend to stay up to date with their preventive care and/or chronic conditions (Like diabetes and high blood pressure). Those patients are also less likely to be hospitalized or have surgeries because any negative conditions tend to be detected earlier, which leads to earlier treatment and better health outcomes.

So, what is a primary care physician (PCP) and why do I need one?

Primary care is often your first step in addressing your healthcare needs. A PCP is a physician who provides both the first contact for a person with an undiagnosed health concern as well as continuing care of varied medical conditions. They are trained to prevent, diagnose, and treat a broad array of illnesses and injuries. PCPs provide comprehensive care – which means they can address chronic, long-term conditions like diabetes as well as acute problems like bronchitis, allergic reactions, or colds & flu.

Primary care physicians are extensively trained to provide the best quality medical service. The process to become a PCP is often a lengthy one that involves many years of education and training. Because of this extensive education and training, they are able to practice in a wide variety of settings, including medical clinics, private or group practices, long-term facilities, and outpatient & impatient hospital settings. When you see a primary care physician, you can expect to have access to a full range of health services.

Some primary care physicians focus on a particular patient population like children or older adults. Some are family physicians and treat patients of all ages. If you are looking for a primary care doctor, it is often advised to find out everything you can about the doctor’s practice in advance. Building a relationship with a primary care physician who is a good fit for you is likely to improve your health outcomes now and in the future.

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