In the past people relied on family doctors for everything from broken bones and the common cold to the delivery of babies. Family practitioners knew the medical history of the entire family because they treated both the children and the parents. Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) are bringing this tradition back. Instead of specializing in a specific area of medicine, PCPs help patients maintain overall health by focusing on preventive care. Some, but not all, insurance companies require patients to chose a Primary Care Physician. Check with your insurance company to see if you’re required to select a PCP.
There are 24 specialties in medicine but typically only three qualify as PCPs. Although some women may think their Obstetrician/Gynecologist qualifies as a PCP, in most cases only doctors with the following three specialties are considered PCPs:
Choosing a doctor can be challenging; You might not want to just pick a name out of the phone book. If your insurance company requires you to choose a PCP, you may want to take time to research your options. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Don’t wait until you get sick to choose a PCP. Primary Care Physicians see their patients regularly, looking for symptoms a patient may not notice. Annual exams may help your PCP guide you toward healthy lifestyle habits that may decrease the likelihood that you’ll need expensive specialty care. In most cases, a PCP will need to refer you to a specialist should you need one. PCPs can educate patients on healthy habits and catch early warning signs that may require further investigation. For example, a routine health exam may uncover conditions such as high blood pressure or even hormonal imbalances due to glandular problems. Health problems like these can go unnoticed by the patient for years resulting in serious chronic health issues. Developing a relationship with your Primary Care Physician can help keep illnesses at bay. Remember the old adage: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.