by: Stephanie Pichan
Maybe you already have a primary care provider (PCP), maybe you have been trying to find the perfect one, or maybe you’ve never even thought about why it’s important to designate a single provider as a starting point for all your health needs and concerns.
First of all, let’s start out with the basics. What is a PCP?
A PCP is usually a physician, but can also be a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or other healthcare provider. In a nutshell, a PCP is the first person you go to when you have an undiagnosed sign, symptom, or health concern. Your PCP will provide a diagnosis and/or continuing care for a condition and appropriately refer you to a specialist if a condition is beyond their scope of care.
So, why is it important to have a PCP?
Builds a provider-patient relationship, better preventative care,
saves time and money, and continuity in care, to name a few….
Building a relationship with a PCP helps to build a story, or the larger picture, of your health over time. Over 30% of people do not have a PCP, so that means every time those patients seek care they are likely seeing a different provider each time. An average appointment time is 15 minutes, so that means you only have that short amount of time with that provider to attempt to effectively and efficiently paint a picture of your health. On top of that, some providers only allow you to discuss a limited number of concerns in a single appointment. Seeing the same PCP will provide a more holistic approach to your care and help connect the dots of your past and current health, therefore leading to more effective diagnosis and treatment. A PCP will already know your medical history, be able to track your health over time to identify any trends, easily detect patterns, identify what treatments are working or not, and, therefore, be able to provide the best care possible. Over time you will likely gain more trust in the PCP and feel more open to discuss concerns or maybe even feel more encouraged to make and keep future appointments because you feel like you have a partner in health and removes the barrier of not knowing where to go if you have a health concern.
Here are some tips on how to find a PCP that’s right for you:
- Search in network. Make sure you are searching within your network for your insurance plan. Insurance company websites have search engines that allow you to locate physicians within specific specialities in your network. Most practice websites will display what insurance they accept, or you can simply call them and ask.
- Ask for recommendations. Ask people you know or other providers you trust for a recommendation. Most people are happy to recommend providers they have had a good experience with.
- Do your research. Start Googling providers. Many practices will have short descriptions for each provider as well as list education, certifications, specialties and interests.
- Other considerations. Do you want a male or female? Do you prefer an MD or a DO? Do you want someone who practices more holistically or traditionally? What other things are important to you?
Your health is your most important asset. Start making investments today by choosing a PCP that best fits you and your needs to ensure you’re being proactive and getting the best care.
LOCAL.FRIENDLY.INSURANCE www.WhitakerLaChance.com (269) 324-7700
About the author:
Stephanie Pichan is the Health and Wellness Coordinator at Whitaker LaChance Agency in Portage, Michigan. She’s a graduate of the Community Health Education program at Western Michigan University where she worked on an innovative team for 10 years developing health technology behavior-change interventions. She has a specific interest in the area of holistic health and believes in the healing power of food and its role in disease prevention. Although she strives to get at least 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, she believes it’s important to indulge from time to time; ice cream is usually the winner. Whether through work, volunteering, or every day connections, she’s passionate about helping others live their best life possible. Stephanie is developing the health and wellness area at Whitaker LaChance and using her creativity to contribute to the vision of the marketing team. She’s excited to be an integral part of helping the agency grow and expand.