In some ways, medicine is more powerful and more accessible than ever. If you have a sore throat or a runny nose, you can swing by any number of walk-in or urgent care clinics and receive speedy treatment. But there are some drawbacks to seeking out medical care only when you aren’t feeling well–drawbacks that are amplified when all you receive is a quick fix. Isolated symptoms don’t always tell the whole story of your health.
That’s why building a relationship with your primary care doctor is absolutely essential. Regular checkups with your primary care doctor can vastly improve your overall wellness. Not only can a primary care doctor help with that sore throat, but they can also keep an eye on long term health factors, often preventing small issues from becoming big problems.
Top Reasons to Love Primary Care
There are several significant reasons why primary care is incredibly important to your overall health. Some of the most common are listed below.
#1: You Really Get to Know Your Docs (and They Get to Know You)
If you’ve ever been to one of those walk-in “minute clinics,” you know that they are aptly named. The experience is rushed from beginning to end. That can be a relief when you want some antibiotic drops for your pink eye or medication for an ear infection. But good healthcare relies on knowledge–and knowledge takes time.
That’s why, ideally, you’ll get to see your primary care doctor with some regularity, even when you’re feeling good. Whether you’re coming in for an annual check up or taking care of a sore throat, you can usually count on several visits to your clinic every year. This means that your primary care doctor can really get to know you.
As a result, your primary care physician will have a chance to become quite familiar with your personal health. Your doctor will know what’s normal for you, what you might need to improve on, and will have a better sense of when you might need to see a specialist.
#2: Your Primary Care Doctor Can Better Coordinate Your Healthcare
Specialists don’t always do a great job of communicating with each other. So if you’re seeing an ENT doctor for one issue and an orthopedist for another, it can be challenging to paint a complete picture of your health. That’s why it’s incredibly useful to have a primary care physician that can coordinate with specialists and use your medical history to better contextualize your care. In other words, your primary care doctor can help make sure that all of your care is improving your wellness in a holistic way.
#3: You Can Catch Problems Early
One of the most significant benefits of routinely seeing your primary care doctor is that you can often catch health problems early. For example:
- Testing can reveal a rise in cholesterol early enough that dietary changes or medication therapies can bring your numbers back into a healthy range.
- Cancer screenings can often detect specific types of cancer–such as breast cancer or prostate cancer–early, resulting in improved outcomes and mortality.
- Changes in your behavior that may have a negative impact on your health can be discovered earlier, before bad habits set in. Likewise, it will be easier to notice when positive changes in behavior–such as eating better or exercising–start generating results.
- Routine screenings can detect other health issues, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, before severe physical damage occurs.
- Mental health screenings can help diagnose common issues such as depression or anxiety and provide you with resources or coping mechanisms.
Almost universally, earlier detection leads to better health outcomes.
#4: You Get Holistic Care (and See More of Your Health History)
How does your current sore throat relate to the asthma you’ve had since you were a kid? That’s probably not a question that you’d get asked at a walk-in clinic or an urgent care office. But those connections can be important, which is why your primary care doctor will make those kinds of inquiries.
Essentially, your primary care doctor is going to look at your overall health. This means the doctor can sometimes make connections and catch things that other specialists may miss. A primary care doctor has time to ask and think about your overall health. And since you visit your primary care doctor routinely, you’ll have a much more comprehensive catalog of your health history. This makes it easier to appreciate trends or see deviations from your wellness norms.
#5: You Can Enjoy Lower Costs (in the Long Run)
While your health is always the most pressing concern, the costs of healthcare are also an important consideration. Over the long run, visiting your primary care physician on a regular basis can lead to significant savings. Because you catch problems earlier, less drastic (and, thus, less expensive) interventions are usually required. At the same time, your primary care doctor can prescribe generic medications when they are appropriate, saving you even more out of pocket expenses.
And being able to access your primary care physician means you can save on emergency room or urgent care visits (which usually charge far more for effectively the same medical interventions). Imagine, instead of heading into the emergency room, you can simply call your primary care doctor and ask about needed care–saving you money and giving you peace of mind all at once.
#6: You Can Monitor Your Mental Health
Mental health is an often overlooked aspect of your overall wellness. But mental health issues can be exceptionally common. According to a 2020 survey by the National Alliance on Mental Health, nearly 1 in 5 Americans are impacted by mental health illnesses every year.
This has been especially true as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to introduce new and additional stressors and anxieties. Discussing your mental health with your primary care doctor gives you an opportunity to keep check in on your mental health and take note of any possible warnings or red flags. Additionally, you’ll have the chance to discuss the best ways to promote your mental wellbeing.
It’s important to note that mental health illnesses and challenges are not confined to adults only. For a wide variety of reasons, children, tweens, and teens of all ages can develop and present mental health challenges. An annual visit with a primary care physician gives kids a chance to talk about how they’re feeling, what they might be anxious about, and seek solutions that can help them feel better.
Mental Health Diagnosis and Treatment
During your visit, your primary care physician will be able to help you recognize and diagnose mental illnesses or challenges. This diagnosis will be conducted using a screening process. The most common diagnoses are:
Often, primary care physicians will ask a series of pre-scripted questions because they’re pressed for time. Your physician should take to the time to ask questions specific to you, understand your individual situation and direct you for the appropriate care.
Once the screening is complete, your physician will then be able to offer several solutions, including:
- Referral to a mental health specialist, including a physiatrist or a therapist, depending on your needs.
- Medication that will help you manage your symptoms and improve day-to-day functions.
- Recommendations for non-medication therapies that will help you manage less severe or intense symptoms.
- Ways to help manage anxiety and stress, where possible, using by being proactive and developing good habits and coping strategies.
For people of all ages, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new mental health stressors–and exacerbated challenges that were already there. Seeing your primary care doctor can put you on a path towards feeling better.
Consider Direct Primary Care
Direct primary care is a fantastic way to get all of your primary care needs taken care of. At a direct primary care clinic, you’ll pay a monthly membership fee… and that’s it. That fee covers all (or nearly all) of the services offered by the practice, so you’ll always know exactly how much you’re paying. Nothing goes through insurance, so you’ll never get a surprise bill (or interference) from your insurance company.
For those seeking other non traditional ways to receive primary care, so-called concierge medicine is also an option. However, concierge medicine is still mediated by your health insurance, so it’s not a great fit for everyone.
Better Benefits with DPC
Because of the way they’re structured, every good reason to see a primary care doctor becomes a better reason with a direct primary care clinic. DPC practices function on a much lower patient-to-physician ratio, meaning you’ll get more time with your doctor during every visit and know exactly what you’re paying for care on a monthly basis.
In other words, you can stay healthier and save more money. What’s more, all of your care at a DPC clinic is paid for by your membership dues. You never even have to think about your insurance company. Free from the restrictions of appointment-based billing, many issues (for example, pink eye or ear infections) can be addressed with a simple phone call or a quick televisit. You pay the same amount monthly regardless–no copays, no balance billing.
That’s why many people have chosen direct primary care over traditional primary care.
A Good Reason to See Your Doctor
However you receive your primary care, there’s no doubt that there are multiple reasons why you should see your primary care doctor on a regular basis. But the bottom line is this: it’s good for your health.
Want to know more about direct primary care? Contact our offices to schedule a consultation with our staff and get all your questions answered