Primary Care Physicians (PCP)
What Is a Primary Care Physician and Why Are They So Important?
Consumer behavior has shifted towards care fragmentation and avoidance as a result of inconvenience and expense. As health insurance grows more expensive, patients need an option that redefines the delivery of their healthcare and exceeds their expectations.
Defining Primary Care
Primary care is the provision of integrated, accessible health care services by clinicians who are accountable for addressing a large majority of personal health care needs, developing a sustained partnership with patients, and practicing in the context of family and community.
Primary Care Physicians
Primary Care physicians (or general practitioners) play an important role in keeping their patients healthy over long periods of time and can provide much of the healthcare needed by their patients. There are four areas within primary care and many physicians can treat specialized areas of health as well. The four areas, according to the University of Utah, are:
Primary care physician are usually the first medical practitioner contacted by a patient because they are accessible, provide comprehensive care, coordinate additional care and are accountable for their patient’s continued health. The patient-clinician relationship is central to primary care and PCPs are often considered health advocates for their patients. They play an essential role as a patient’s gatekeeper to the rest of the health care system.
Since primary care is typically the first step towards health, its referred to as the “entry point of healthcare” and is a fundamental part of the health care system.
Unfortunately, the number of Americans with PCPs is shrinking and part of it is due to economic disparities and other barriers to care. In fact, 50 percent of Americans say they put off getting healthcare because of related expenses. But there is also a growing number of people who don’t understand the importance of primary care and how to use the healthcare system most effectively. As of 2019, just 67 percent of millennials had a primary care physician, compared with 85 percent of baby boomers.
Most people do not know the complexities of their health and wellness. Often people ignore warning signs in their bodies until something drastic happens, at which point they rush to the emergency room or urgent care. The problem with treating the E.R. like primary care is skyrocketing costs for the patient and their employer if they have health insurance. Without health insurance, medical bills can quickly overwhelm anyone.
PCPs can screen for many ailments, including obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. They also review immunization records and help keep patients and their families up to date with shots and other preventative measures.
Studies show that people who utilize primary care have better health outcomes, including lower rates of all causes of mortality. Researchers found noticeably lower death rates from heart disease, cancer, or stroke, infant mortality, low birth weight, and poor self-reported health in areas where people sought care from primary care physicians.
Building an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician and their team empowers people to take control of their health. Having a support system and a wealth of knowledge they could never get on their own assuages fears or unfamiliarity that might prevent some from getting life-saving care. Having someone to tell you when something is not quite right or advise you to see a specialist can prevent illnesses from developing or worsening. In the event of being referred to a specialist, this knowledge and familiarity help personalize your care and save time that may have previously been spent explaining medical history.
In short, having access to primary care helps patients get effective care by allowing them to be proactive about their health. If you are interested in access to unlimited primary care, reach out to Healthcare2U. We have solutions for individuals, employers, and benefit agents.
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