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Everyone is busy these days, from work and family to friends and activities. While it may seem like a timesaving move to skip your annual visit to your primary care doctor, it may not be the best decision for your overall health. Multiple studies have shown that having a primary care physician (PCP) will keep you healthier as you get older. By establishing a relationship with a doctor you trust, you increase the likelihood of getting a correct diagnosis along with appropriate treatment. Here’s a look at the benefits of having a primary care doctor.
A PCP will make sure you’re up-to-date on vaccines, screenings and routine physicals while also discussing lifestyle changes like weight loss, exercise and quitting tobacco. Your PCP will dive into your family history and educate you about your health to help prevent chronic illnesses down the line.
Problems with depression, vision, memory, fatigue and weight can sneak up on you over time. You may not even realize it’s a problem, but your PCP is trained to look for the warning signs. This is where an established relationship really pays off. Over the long term, a doctor who knows your history, habits and personality can easily pickup on a change in your health.
If you need a specialist, a PCP can refer you to someone they have a collaborative relationship with or help you sort through the options. If you have multiple specialists, your PCP can be the point person for managing the various recommendations and tests, some of which may be contradictory. Your PCP will also look out for possible drug interactions.
Many times, a PCP will notice a progression of symptoms, know your history and be able to diagnose health conditions before they get more serious.
Due to an established relationship, any issues that pop up between annual checkups can be addressed quickly. And when you do see your PCP, it’s a one-stop shop. You can discuss a variety of health issues, whether they’re physical, emotional or mental.
Research has shown that people who regularly see a PCP have lower overall healthcare costs than those who don’t. Believe it or not, going to the doctor more frequently can help you spend less. In many cases, a primary care visit is cheaper than seeing a specialist, and it’s definitely cheaper than a visit to the emergency room. Also, that ongoing relationship means your PCP will likely be able to catch health problems early and treat them before they grow into expensive health emergencies.
While it’s vital to be honest with your doctor, some subjects are tough to talk about. An established relationship with a trusted physician makes it easier to open up about issues like depression, sexually transmitted diseases, erectile dysfunction and hemorrhoids.
The single most important thing you should look for in a PCP is someone who is genuinely interested in your well-being. They should be more interested in listening than talking, helping you make informed decisions about your health. You may need to shop around a bit to find one that fits. When something this important is on the line, it’s ok to be picky.