With so many healthcare options (and the chaotic pace of life for everyone these days), we often have to squeeze our healthcare needs into our day wherever we can. We visit an urgent care, emergency department, a retail clinic or even online – out of convenience.
Convenience is important and so is having and visiting your primary care provider. Studies in numerous medical journals, including the International Journal of Health Services, have confirmed that having a primary care provider helps keep you healthier as you age. Learn more about why and how a primary care provider can be better for you.
- Overall health: Researchers at the Journal of Health Affairs found that patients with a primary care provider have better management of chronic diseases, lower overall healthcare costs, and a higher level of satisfaction with their care.
- Continuum of care: A primary care provider coordinates all your care, all in one place – from preventive care to issues that may arise, such as stomach pain or chronic conditions – taking the burden of coordinating care off your shoulders.
- Team of experts: Not only do you have the relationship with your primary care provider, but you also have access to their entire team of healthcare providers. Together, they can collaborate from the get-go to ensure all aspects of your health are addressed.
- Medical history: Whether it’s your family doctor or a pediatrician, a primary care provider knows your medical and family history so they have your full medical picture.
- Availability: Historically, it could be difficult to see you primary care provider in a timely fashion. Now, it’s made easier due to many providers committing to same-day appointments, extended hours, online scheduling or walk-in availability.
When choosing a primary care doctor for yourself and your family, here are a few things to consider:
- Ask friends, relatives and co-workers for recommendations. Word of mouth can be a good way to find a reputable doctor who you’ll feel more comfortable with.
- Check with your insurance carrier to find providers who are in your insurance network.
- Take convenience into consideration. Determine how close they are to your home or work, and ask how you can communicate with them (phone, email, text, online).
- Ask what their appointment availability usually is. Do they offer evening and weekend hours?
- Ask if the practice has other providers, such as nurse practitioners or physician assistants. If they do, it can be easier to schedule non-urgent appointments.