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In an increasingly complex medical world, having one doctor who knows your health history has become highly important.
Researchers at the journal Health Affairs found that patients who have a primary care provider benefit from better management of chronic diseases, lower overall health-care costs and a higher level of satisfaction with their care.
Here are the five most important ways building a relationship with a primary care provider generally considered to include the specialties of internal medicine, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics can improve health care for you and your family.
Having a single physician who has seen you for everything from bellyaches to immunizations to blood-pressure control means having a health resource who knows your history. When you have an appointment, you don't have to explain that there's heart disease in your family or list the medications you're taking and in what doses- its all in your medical record already.
Within a primary care practice, you can assess a wide variety of health services: preventative care and screenings; care for chronic conditions such as asthma, hypertension and diabetes; and acute care for problems like coughs and high fever.
3. Health maintenance
Your primary care doctor can help you avoid health problems. Based on the doctors examination and your medical history, he or she can determine whether you're at increased risk for conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, and then help you take steps to prevent them from developing.
4. Early detection
Regular checkups and contact with a single physician make it more likely that any health issues will be detected early when they're most treatable.
5. Better communication
When patients know their physician and the practice staff, visits are less stressful and more productive. Its easier to talk about sensitive issues with someone you know in a familiar setting than with a stranger in a strange place.
Primary Care Prep
Unfortunately, we often let hurry, worry or embarrassment keep us from getting what we need from a physician visit. So how can you maximize one-on-one time with your doctor? Try these tips:
- Make a list. Before your appointment, jot down the two or three things you want to ask the doctor.
- Be specific. Be prepared to describe your symptoms in as much detail as possible. If you're having knee pain, for example, explain what it feels like and when it occurs. Is it sharp or dull? Is it constant or does it come and go?
- Get medicines checked. If you take several medications that have been prescribed by different doctors, bring a list of them or bring the pill bottles with you.
- Speak up promptly. Don't leave your biggest worry for the end of the visit. Mention major concerns early to be sure there's time to answer your questions.
- Don't try to be your own doctor. Its good to do research, but resist jumping to conclusions about your condition.
- Summarize. Before the doctor leaves the room, ask for the opportunity to repeat back the main things you learned during your visit to help ensure you understood everything fully.
If you need a primary care physician, we can help. Visit our website to find an AdventHealth physician near you.