Choosing a Primary Care Provider
By: Kristin Carlson, Marketing Specialist, Bonner General Health
What is a Primary Care Provider, and why do I need one?
When a non-emergent health issue arises, a Primary Care Provider (PCP) will most likely be your first call. A PCP typically manages your overall health and wellness. You go to this person when you are sick, having symptoms of illness, and for a referral.
A primary care Doctor, Physician Assistant (P.A.), and Nurse Practitioner (N.P.) can all serve as your PCP. The main differences are the level of education and areas of training. However, they are all unique in their ability to diagnose and treat a wide range of health concerns.
Many feel they are in overall good health and do not need a Primary Care Provider. If I get sick, then I’ll call a doctor. Having someone you have already established yourself as a patient with leaves the guessing out of where to go when you don’t feel well. Also, it may be challenging to get in right away if you are coming in as a new patient.
What are the benefits?
Your long-term health: Seeing your PCP regularly typically leads to more preventative screening, wellness exams, and the management of chronic conditions if and when they arise. Things such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, mammograms, and immunizations help generate health longevity, promoting sustained and improved quality of life.
Builds a trusting relationship with your provider: The more regularly you see your PCP, the more familiar they become with your health history, habits, and conditions. Routine appointments promote trust and comfort. As does seeing a familiar face when talking about the intimate details of your health. Having a trusted medical professional in your life could also be beneficial when it comes to a referral for specialty care for you or a family member.
Saves time and money: In most cases, a wellness exam, which is typically an annual appointment with your primary care provider to prevent or catch health issues early on, is almost always 100% covered by insurance. An appointment with your PCP can allow you the opportunity to discuss several topics of concern and seek advice or treatment for more than one issue, saving you time. It is also an opportunity to have routine screenings and talk about any new concerns. Catching or preventing future health issues can save you from more extensive, costly, and potentially life-threatening conditions and treatments in the future.
What type of Primary Care Provider is right for me?
We now know a Primary Care Provider can cover a wide variety of conditions and help to diagnose and refer you for those needing a specialist. Within the category of PCP’s, there are different types to consider, which may be most beneficial to you. Some PCP’s operate under a family practice model, where your entire family can be seen and treated. Others may focus on women’s health, pediatrics, adult, or elderly patients.
Not sure where to start? First, check with your insurance company for a list of providers who accept your insurance plan. Word of mouth is another excellent resource. Ask friends and family that you trust who they use for their PCP. If you have a specific condition, search for a PCP who specializes in it. Initiating a patient-provider relationship can put you on the path to a long, healthy, hassle-free healthcare experience.
For a full list of services offered by Bonner General health visit: www.bonnergeneral.org.
Article submission for Sandpoint Living Local: September 2020