September 7, 2023
The Importance of Primary Care
Why primary care?
Primary care can often be overlooked—after all, why visit a provider if you’re not sick? The answer is for many reasons. Regular visits help your primary care provider (PCP) stay abreast of any health changes you might be experiencing, monitor your baseline health, and make certain your vaccines and medications are up to date. Having regular visits and conversations with your PCP allows for a trusting relationship to develop so when health challenges do arise, you are able to communicate easily and freely with an expert who knows you! It is critical to stay on top of your health by becoming an established patient at your Fort HealthCare clinic. Below are some helpful tips and definitions to assist you on your primary health care journey.
What is a primary care provider?
A PCP is an advanced practitioner in the field of Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, or Pediatrics. The provider can be a medical physician (DO or MD), an advanced nurse practitioner (APNP) or a physician’s assistant (PA). PCPs help the entire family achieve total health through prevention, education and, if needed, medical intervention with the goal of maintaining good health that lasts a lifetime. PCPs are interested and trained to build trusting relationships with their patients and many times serve the same patient from pediatric and adolescent care through adulthood. They can also connect you to other needed health services such as physical therapy, mental health treatment, general surgery, etc.
How do I become an “established” patient?
Becoming an established patient at Fort HealthCare is simple and important. It is recommended that patients are seen every year for an annual exam and this visit is generally encouraged and covered by most insurance plans. If you are not seen by your provider in a 3-year timeframe you will need to re-establish care as a new patient. Since not all PCPs are accepting new patients, it is best to maintain regular visits so you continue to be designated as an established patient.
What can I expect at an annual exam?
During a first annual exam, your measurements (e.g., height, weight, blood pressure, basic lab work) and medical health and family history are documented. This recorded baseline information will be helpful to track and compare with future findings and allow for early detection of changing conditions. Your medications and vaccinations will be reviewed to determine if all is current. Annual exams also focus on tactics for preventing health issues. Preventative health screenings that may be recommended at this visit depending on your age and family history include breast cancer, cervical and colorectal screening. Other screenings may be discussed and ordered for you by your PCP. It is also your time to ask your PCP any health-related questions that have been on your mind. Remember your PCP is a medical expert and can help you to put concerns to rest or recommend additional resources to you.
What about me?
First and foremost, your PCP can personalize and tailor the services provided to you based on your specific and unique needs. Whether you are being monitored due to a chronic condition or just wanting to stay in the best health possible, your PCP will develop a wholistic health portrait of YOU and develop a plan which can positively impact your longevity and quality of life.
A final tip. . .preventative care is less costly!
Do not wait until a simple medical issue becomes a complicated one. Waiting to visit a PCP hoping that the medical issue will “go away” may not only be critical to your overall health but it can also be a very expensive decision. Emergency room care and hospitalization are costly to both the patient and the health care delivery system. We all know there are times when these two locations of care are essential BUT if you can do your part and manage your health issues with your PCP, you will be happier and healthier!
Do not delay and schedule your annual exam today! If you have a MyCompass account with Fort HealthCare, you may schedule your appointment on-line or if you prefer, you may click here for a directory of Fort HealthCare clinic phone numbers.