5 reasons to have a primary care physician (PCP) and how to choose the right one
1.) PCPs provide routine medical screenings based on your health history to help detect and treat disease early. In some cases, early detection can be the difference between life and death. For example, finding cancer in early stages gives patients the best chance of survival. Seeing a qualified PCP regularly can maximize your health potential.
2.) When symptoms arise, you may have them checked promptly. Some physicians may not have appointments available for several months unless you are an established patient. You do not want to wait until, for instance, you find a lump in your breast to start considering who’s the best PCP. It’s better to be proactive and deter any unnecessary stress.
3.) Loyalty to one PCP allows him/her to get to know you and your personal medical history. If there’s an emergency, your PCP will be able to consider your personal needs during treatment. He/she also can use this information to better advise you about how to handle other health issues you may be facing.
4.) Your PCP will serve as the “coach” of your health care team, helping you make important decisions if ever you’re faced with a serious medical condition. He/she can refer you to appropriate specialists and guide you through other decisions related to your treatment plan.
5.) Having a trusted PCP to call for sound advice is priceless. Sometimes you may have a simple question to ask, like how to keep your son hydrated during a long bout of stomach flu. Rather than risk being misinformed, you can call a trained, qualified medical expert anytime.
Choosing the right PCP for you
Depending on your age, gender and other needs, your PCP might be a specialist in internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology or pediatrics. Here are other questions you might consider:
- Do you have a medical condition that requires special attention? If so, you might consider a PCP with a sub-specialty, i.e. cardiology if you have a heart condition.
- Has one of your friends or family members mentioned a favorite doctor? Ask them to tell you about their experiences.
- Does your insurance cover services provided by the PCP you’re considering? To find out, read directories from your insurance plan or contact your provider.
- Is the PCP truly qualified? Verify his or her board certifications, practice information, legal actions and professional activities.
- Can he/she admit you to a local hospital and follow you as an inpatient? You want to make sure your PCP has privileges at a reputable hospital in your area.
- Do you feel comfortable and satisfied with office environment, policies and procedures? Ultimately, the best way to decide is to visit or call the practice to ask questions.