When it comes to our health, we often have a lot of questions. What’s the best way to prevent heart disease? How do I know if I have a concussion? Is it serious if I have a fever? Who can I go to for answers? The answer to all of these questions is your primary care physician (PCP). A PCP is a doctor who provides general medical care for you and your family. You can think of them as your “go-to” doctor for all things health-related. In this post, we will answer the question, “What does a primary care physician do?”. And for a primary care physician go here.
- General medical care
Your primary care physician is responsible for providing general medical care for you and your family. This includes routine check-ups, vaccinations, screenings, and patient education. Your PCP is also the first point of contact for any health concerns that may arise. If you have a cold or the flu, your PCP will be able to diagnose and treat your symptoms. If you have a more serious condition, your PCP will refer you to a specialist.
- Preventative care
Preventative care is an important part of what a primary care physician does. Your PCP will work with you to create a personalized plan to help you prevent illnesses and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This may include recommendations for diet, exercise, and screenings.
- Diagnosing and treating illness
If you are sick or injured, your PCP will be responsible for diagnosing and treating your condition. They will take your medical history into account and perform a physical examination. Based on this information, they will make a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. In some cases, your PCP may refer you to a specialist for further treatment.
- Coordinating care
If you have a chronic condition or are dealing with multiple health issues, your PCP will coordinate your care. This means they will work with other healthcare providers, such as specialists and therapists, to ensure that all of your needs are being met. Your PCP will also keep track of your progress and make any necessary changes to your care plan.
- Being a resource
Your primary care physician is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to your health. If you have questions or concerns, they will be happy to answer them. They can also provide you with information on healthy living and disease prevention. They may also offer counseling or support groups for conditions such as obesity, smoking cessation, and stress management.
How to choose a primary care physician
With primary care physicians being such an important part of your health care team, it is essential that you choose one that you feel comfortable with and who meets your needs. Here are some tips on how to choose a primary care physician:
Get recommendations from family and friends.
The chances are that someone you know has a great primary care physician that they love. Ask around for recommendations and then schedule a few appointments to interview potential candidates. During this interview, be sure to ask about the doctor’s experience, bedside manner, and office policies.
Consider your health insurance.
Your insurance plan may have a list of in-network primary care physicians that you can choose from. If you have a preferred provider organization (PPO) plan, you may be able to see any primary care physician that accepts your insurance, but you will likely pay more out-of-pocket costs. If you have a health maintenance organization (HMO) plan, you will need to choose a primary care physician from the list of providers that contract with your HMO.
Consider your medical needs.
Do you have any chronic health conditions that require special care? If so, you’ll want to make sure that your primary care physician has experience treating patients with similar conditions. You may also want to choose a doctor who is affiliated with a hospital that can provide the level of care you need, should you ever require hospitalization.
Is the primary care physician’s office close to your home or work? Are their office hours convenient for you? If you have young children, you may want to choose a doctor who offers extended evening and weekend hours.
Ask about the doctor’s approach to treatment.
Do they believe in preventive care? Do they take a more natural approach to medicine, or are they more likely to prescribe medication? Do they have experience with alternative treatments like acupuncture or massage therapy? Be sure that their approach to medicine aligns with your own beliefs.
As you can see, there are many things that a primary care physician does. They are responsible for general medical care, preventative care, and diagnosing and treating illness. They also coordinate your care and act as a resource for information on your health. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, be sure to speak with your primary care physician.