Quality Care Begins with Primary Care
Your primary care provider, or PCP, is more than just a doctor to call when you're sick. A primary care provider is your partner in maintaining your overall health and well-being.
What Is a Primary Care Provider (PCP)?
A primary care provider is your “personal” doctor. Primary care providers serve as the medical home for basic and continuing health care needs for children, adults and seniors. Your PCP is often your first line of defense in preventing and treating illness.
Your primary care provider is trained to diagnose and treat most common diseases and medical conditions, as well as coordinate your care with specialists when appropriate.
He or she knows your health history and coordinates your health care needs. Primary care providers include doctors, physician assistants or advanced registered nurse practitioners in:
Why Should I Have a Primary Care Provider?
Having a primary care provider offers you an ongoing, trusting relationship with one medical professional over time, which can result in significant health benefits.
Here are four reasons you need a PCP:
1. Your PCP Knows YOU.
Having a primary care provider means having someone who knows your health history, such as what procedures you have undergone and how certain medications affect you. Your PCP notices changes in your health, such as blood pressure, cholesterol or even memory. He or she can help you with your goals – losing weight, quitting smoking or being healthy enough to take part in a sport. Oftentimes, your primary care provider knows your family, too. This starts even before your child is born, as your PCP can help you or your partner have a healthy pregnancy.
2. Coordinated Care
Your primary care provider is the first doctor you will see for most of your medical care. At UnityPoint Clinic, we coordinate your care between your doctor, the hospital and care at home. Because your PCP looks at your health as a whole, he or she can also coordinate your care with the right specialist. You will work with your PCP to manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or COPD.
3. Better Preventative Care
Primary care providers keep you up-to-date on recommended vaccinations, including flu shots and Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis). They guide you through routine screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and cholesterol and glucose tests. And they can help you determine a diet and exercise plan, which can aid you in avoiding many other conditions.
4. Save Time and Money
Staying on top of your health with a visit to your primary care provider can mean fewer trips to the hospital down the road. Patients with a primary care provider can often make appointments sooner and more quickly than those who do not have a relationship established with a doctor. Your PCP becomes familiar with your health history and risks, so you won’t have to repeat this information each time you return to the clinic.
When Should I See a Primary Care Provider?
The time to see a primary care provider is before you need one. Don’t wait until you’re sick. Get started today. Your PCP will help you establish a timeline for screenings, vaccinations and your next visit.
What to Look for in a Primary Care Provider
People choose a doctor for a variety of reasons – what their friends say, how close the office is, the doctor’s gender or if the doctor speaks a second language.
Above all, it is important that you trust and feel comfortable with your provider. To an extent, this will come with time, but you will want someone who explains things clearly and understands what is important to you.
Communication is crucial in a provider-patient relationship. Try not to feel self-conscious or rushed to voice your questions or concerns. You may want to bring a list of issues to discuss at your appointment. If you find your provider’s explanations difficult to understand, let him or her know so he or she can present the information in a different way.
Find a Primary Care Provider
Use our online physician finder to search for a primary care provider, your partner in health.