When your calendar is already booked full of appointments, it can be tempting to skip your annual wellness check with your Primary Care Provider (PCP). Maybe you’re already in good health and don’t need any medications. Or maybe you’re already seeing several specialists who manage your chronic conditions. In either scenario, adding one more doctor’s appointment to your day may seem like an unnecessary annoyance.
But Primary Care Providers are your first line of defense to help you identify health problems before they get out of hand. And when your medical team involves a complex network of specialists, your PCP can act as the quarterback, coordinating care and keeping an eye on the bigger picture of your overall health.
Still not convinced? Read on for five reasons why you should book a wellness visit with your PCP.
1. Primary Care Providers see the whole picture.
Modern health care is complex – which can be a good thing. When you have a serious health issue, you want an expert on your health team who has deep knowledge in their specialty – like a cardiologist, orthopedist, or endocrinologist. But sometimes having a lot of specialists involved in your care can lead to fragmented communication.
Your PCP is the one physician whose job it is to look at you as a whole person – not just as an organ system or body part. They take a holistic approach to your care, looking not only at your physical symptoms, but also your emotional and mental wellbeing. Their job is also to coordinate your care between all the members of your health care team, to make sure everyone is on the same page.
2. Primary Care Providers prevent and treat more than you think.
Your PCP should be your first stop for non-emergent health needs, including checkups, screenings, and immunizations. Keeping tabs on these routine tasks can help your provider identify problems early and help prevent them from becoming bigger issues.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as diabetes, arthritis, or COPD, your PCP can help manage your routine care. And if you’re juggling multiple conditions related to aging – such as memory loss, falls, frailty, or incontinence – you might want to look into finding a PCP who is a Geriatrician, a doctor who has received additional training specifically in treating older adults.
3. Primary Care Providers want to build a personal relationship.
The convenience of urgent care and quick-care clinics in retail pharmacies and stores may make it seem like a PCP is unnecessary. And they can be helpful in a pinch. But when you visit these types of facilities, you’ll be seeing whichever provider is on call that day – and likely not the same person twice in a row.
Through regular visits with your PCP, you’ll build a long-term relationship. Your provider will get to know you, your health history, and what’s most important to you – things that are all important when determining an informed diagnosis or creating a treatment plan. Also, when you feel comfortable with your doctor, you’ll be more inclined to visit them to address health concerns – even the more intimate or embarrassing ones – before they turn into more serious problems.
4. Primary Care Providers can refer you to the RIGHT specialist.
Your knee’s been bothering you, and you think it might be time to get it replaced. You might be tempted to cut out the ‘middle man’ by booking an appointment directly with the orthopedic surgeon that you found via Facebook, Yelp, or a friend’s recommendation. But before going to a specialist, it’s a good idea to check in with your PCP first.
Your PCP is best qualified to determine the likely cause of your problem, and help direct you towards the right specialist as necessary. That way, you’re not wasting time and money – not to mention the health risks of unnecessary testing – by choosing the wrong specialist.
5. Primary Care Providers help you save money.
Remember the old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Studies show that patients who regularly visit their PCP have fewer hospitalizations and emergency visits than those who do not. That’s because avoiding the doctor and ignoring your symptoms often leads to bigger problems that require emergency care – which can stick you with hefty, unexpected hospital bills. And you’ll be happy to know that Medicare will cover one wellness visit each year, as will many insurance companies.
Providence Life Services wants you to live a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life, well into your senior years and beyond. We offer many types of services and resources for older adults, including senior living options, help at your house, or just someone to answer questions about aging issues. Let us know how we can help!
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.