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What is Primary Care?

Going to the doctor's office is a familiar experience for many. We often go to the doctor's when we don't feel well, have an ongoing issue, or need a routine check-up. In fact, around 84 percent of adults had contact with a health care provider in 2018. Taking care of your health is important, and primary care is part of accomplishing that. 

While many people go to the doctor's, not everyone knows what primary care is, or why it's important. Having an understanding of what primary care is and how it can help you is key to staying healthy, and understanding how to do that. 

Read on to learn about what is primary care, how it can help you, and where you can get primary care.

Primary Care is Important for Everyone

Primary care refers to the day-to-day care provided by health care providers to patients. This is often the first point of contact patients have when seeking assistance with a medical issue. Primary care covers a broad range of services and needs that you can have address with a provider. Some common examples may include going to the doctor when you have a cold, don't feel well, or need an annual physical.

Primary care includes the following:

  • Annual physical exams
  • Regular check-ups for diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Health education
  • Health maintenance
  • Vaccinations
  • HIV/STI Screening
  • Chronic disease management for conditions like HIV/AIDS, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and Hepatitis B and C
  • Care for short-term diseases like strep throat, bronchitis, sinus infections, and STIs
  • Depression screening
  • Referrals to specialists

What is a Primary Care Provider?

Often referred to as a PCP, a primary care provider is a medical professional that offers primary care services. An established PCP is key to maintaining your overall health and having a resource to turn to whenever unexpected needs come up. Having a PCP is incredibly beneficial because:

  • You can have an established medical provider to contact if you need any health issues addressed
  • You can build a relationship with a PCP and establish trust
  • Having a PCP who knows you and your needs
  • Get quick and timely care
  • They'll have your patient profile and history on file 
  • You can get referrals to specialists, if necessary

Types of Primary Care

Primary Care is Tailored to Fitting Your Needs

Primary care is about you and your health needs. It's no surprise, then, that every one has different health needs. As a result, there are different areas of primary care based on patient needs and health:

  • Internal medicine: Internal medicine provides primary care to adults. 
  • Family medicine: Family medicine provides primary care to an entire family regardless of age or gender. 
  • Obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN): Women's primary care is tailored to, well, women. 
  • Pediatrics: This is primary care specifically based on health needs of infants, children, and adolescents. This includes regular checkups, vaccinations, and wellness visits. 

In addition to these four areas, there are also other kinds of primary care that have become more widely available.

Primary Care Patient

Why You Should get Primary Care

Primary care is an important tool to take care of your health. But, not everyone may consider primary care a need. Even if you are healthy, you should get primary care and have a PCP. Here are a few reasons why primary care is absolutely necessary:

  1. A Central Point of Contact: PCPs help coordinate patient care all in one place. Within a PCP’s practice, you have the ability to access a wide spectrum of health services.
  2. Continuity of Care: Continuity of care dramatically increases the likelihood that you’ll receive a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment.  Tracking your health over time enables your PCP to gain valuable information that can help you get the right care.
  3. Better Preventative Care: If you come in for regular physicals instead of only coming in when you’re sick, your primary provider can help educate you about your health and prevent chronic illnesses down the line. They’ll know your family history and can help you watch out for chronic illnesses your family is prone to.
  4. Save Time Down the Line: Setting up a relationship with a consistent provider can help you get care more quickly should you get sick in the future.
  5. A Key Resource: Your PCP should be the first person in the healthcare system that you contact when you have a question or a problem. They can provide the answers and care that you need and access any resources.
  6. Lower Overall Health Care Costs: Routine appointments with your PCP may seem like a waste of time and money if you’re healthy, but research from the Journal of Health Affairs suggests that routine appointments with a PCP cut overall health costs for patients.
  7. A Higher Level of Satisfaction With Their Care: The more you visit a doctor you trust, the better your relationship becomes with them.
  8. Referrals to Other Medical Specialists: PCPs can help refer you to the right specialists when it comes to a particular need that falls outside the realm of primary care. This could refer to areas like cardiology, orthopedics, or dental care. 
  9. Less Hospital and ER Visits: Research shows that patients who regularly visit their primary care physicians have fewer hospitalizations and emergency visits than those who do not utilize primary care doctors. Waiting too long to see a doctor or ignoring symptoms can lead to a hospitalization or an ER visit, two of the most expensive and overwhelming outcomes for patients.
  10. Better Management of Chronic Diseases : Chronic health conditions like diabetes, arthritis and lupus are often difficult to monitor by yourself. A primary care doctor can help you stay organized and aware of how your chronic disease is affecting your body. Scheduling regular visits and performing routine tests are two ways your doctor can help you better maintain your chronic disease.

What is Preventative Care?

Preventative Care is Key

When we talk about primary care, it's important to also discuss preventative care. Preventative care is a component of primary care that is defined as follows: care to help prevent against illness, disease, or other medical problems before they become serious. Basically, preventative care is aimed at keeping you healthy, so you don't get sick with something that could have been avoided. 

In the long run, preventative care can help you not only prevent any illness, it can drastically cut your medical bills and doctor's visits. That's because addressing a potential issue early on will keep you from dealing with something more serious, and costly. 

Here are some examples of preventative care:

  • Diabetes screening
  • Mammograms
  • Colonoscopy
  • Yearly physicals
  • Obesity screening
  • Pap test/Pelvic exam
  • Prostate exam
  • Occasional blood tests

Not Enough People are Doing it

Unfortunately, preventative services are not as widely used as they should be. Only 8% of American adults aged 35 or older received all recommended, high-priority, appropriate clinical preventive services. Preventative care can help reduce chronic illnesses such a diabetes, obesity, and heart problems.

In 2014, 60% of adult Americans had at least one chronic disease or condition, and 42% had multiple diseases. Chronic conditions lead to lower quality of life, and are incredibly costly. In 2016, total direct costs for health care treatment of chronic diseases were more than $1 trillion, with diabetes as one of the top three diseases.

The best way to get started with preventative services is by having a primary care doctor. Read on to learn how to get primary care and find a provider. 

How do I get Primary Care?

Do Your Research

Finding the right primary care doctor for you is an important step in in your care. Knowing where to start can feel overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Here's a few suggestions and notes regarding getting primary care:

  • See what providers are in your health insurance network. Insurance plans have primary care providers that are in their network, and covered under your insurance. You can find providers covered by your plan by going to your health insurance's website. 
  • Check out providers that are near you. You want to be able to easily access your PCP, and searching providers in your area is a good start. 
  • Ask friends and family for referrals. Talk to your friends and family about any recommendations they may have. Finding a trusted PCP or clinic from someone you know can also be taken into consideration. 
  • Find community health center. Getting primary care at a community health center is a low-cost and accessible option. Apicha CHC accepts patients regardless of insurance status, immigration status, or ability to pay. We also specialize in LGBTQ and HIV care. 

find primary care doctor

Primary Care at Apicha CHC

At Apicha Community Health Center, we offer low-cost, inclusive, comprehensive primary care services to anyone in need. We'll set you up with a primary care provider who can cater to all your needs. As a patient of Apicha CHC, you can expect the following:

  • You will have your own PCP who understands you and your health care needs.
  • You will get regular check-ups for diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure.
  • You will get necessary vaccines and cancer screenings appropriate for you. 
  • If you smoke we can work with you to help you stop smoking. 
  • Medication prescriptions and assistance with prior authorizations. 
  • You will be screened for depression and anxiety. If needed, you will have access to Apicha CHC’s on-site Behavioral Health Specialists. 
    You can get a same or next day appointment when you are sick and you will be seen by a provider that knows you. 
  • You can see our Registered Dietitian for nutrition counseling and weight management. 
  • For the things we cannot address, we will help you find a specialist and coordinate your care. 
  • Access to our in-house pharmacy, or free delivery. 
  • You may have access to reduced cost medication.

You can schedule an appointment by calling 866-274-2429 or click here.   If you have more questions about becoming a new patient, click here for more information.  

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