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Four Reasons to Check In With Your PCP

Posted September 14, 2023 by Jen Yates, MS, Manager, Health & Wellness

Doctor and patient

With the busyness of everyday life, it can be easy to forget to schedule preventative care visits. In fact, many people wait until they’re sick to see a doctor.

But, regular appointments and building a strong relationship with a primary care provider (PCP), is an important way to be proactive in your health. Think of your PCP as your partner in becoming your healthiest self. Research shows people who have a PCP have better health outcomes and longer life spans.

Like a good coach or teacher, a PCP will encourage you to make healthy lifestyle changes, keep track of your preventive tests and treatments and help you through illnesses. Your PCP may also become the custodian of your health history and be the person other doctors will call for information if you’re ever hospitalized for a serious medical condition. Also, be sure to inform your PCP of any care you receive from a specialist so they’re kept up to date on all your care.

Regular checkups and health screenings promote overall wellness to improve your quality of life and reduce the risk for chronic disease. So, don’t wait until you’re sick to see your PCP. SummaCare offers 4 reasons why you should have a PCP and make time for yearly checkups. Schedule a routine visit today and take the first step towards a healthier tomorrow.  

PCPs know your whole health to reduce your risk for chronic conditions

Chances are, you’ll see your PCP more than any other type of doctor and over time, the provider will get to know you and your health very well. PCPs treat the whole person. Knowing your family medical history, lifestyle habits or medications you’re taking can alert them to areas where you might have a higher risk for chronic disease than the general population.

Together, you can discuss your risks and what steps to take to reduce them. Certain screenings, such as mammograms or a colonoscopy, may be recommended at an earlier age or more frequently if your family history points to a higher risk for certain cancers.

Your PCP also can teach you healthy lifestyle choices—what small steps you can take to incorporate them into your daily routine—and to decrease your risk for chronic disease.

PCPs keep you up to date on routine screenings and vaccinations

Your PCP’s job is to focus on your vitals, such as weight, blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, to assess your health. But, your provider also may recommend any number of preventative tests, such as diabetes and cancer screenings. A PCP will determine when you should participate in these screenings based on your age, gender, family history and lifestyle.

Screening tests are vital to catch cancer or other diseases at an early stage when these serious conditions are easier to treat.

In addition, regular visits with your PCP can help you stay up to date on immunizations or boosters that you need to stay protected against illness. Your age and health can also play a role in which vaccines are recommended for you.

Adults need to keep their vaccines up to date because immunity from childhood vaccines can wear off over time. Vaccination is one of the safest and most convenient ways to protect your health.

PCPs can catch health issues earlier and help keep you out of the hospital

Developing a relationship with PCPs helps them know what is and isn’t normal for you. They can track and note the changes they observe.

If something changes in your health, your PCP is more likely to notice and catch it early because they are actively monitoring your health.

By catching disease early, your PCP can help you treat it before it turns into something more serious and requires emergency care. In fact, research shows patients who have PCPs have fewer hospitalizations and ER visits.

PCPs are your partner in managing chronic disease

If you do develop a chronic disease, such as diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure, your PCP can help you manage it. They can develop a treatment plan to manage medication side effects or help you take small steps to adjust your lifestyle habits if your chronic disease can be improved through diet, exercise or other healthy habits.

A PCP visit is also an opportunity to discuss something that’s bothering you at the first sign of a problem, whether it’s troubles with balance, risk for falls or mental health concerns. It could point to a condition that needs to be addressed and they can refer you to their network of specialists, if necessary.

Don’t have a PCP? You can get started by accessing your health plan to find out which providers are in your network or asking family and friends for recommendations. Don’t delay in selecting one; a PCP is your best advocate for living a healthier, longer life.