9 Ways Primary Care Saves Lives
In the era of WebMD and Dr. Google, medical specialists, and “take-a-number” treatment, many think primary care is old-fashioned, maybe even obsolete. Yet overwhelming evidence suggests the contrary—it’s actually more important than anyone ever knew.
Those who consistently see their primary care providers—including family doctors, internists, pediatricians, and obstetricians/gynecologists—lead healthier lives, according to studies. It’s not surprising. By obtaining a baseline record of health, primary care physicians track and encourage their patients’ wellness over time and detect diseases sooner. The approach results in better long-term health, fewer medical procedures, and lower health costs, among many other benefits.
Below are nine clear reasons why primary care really matters:
1. Your primary doctors know your body.
They noted the last time you experienced shortness of breath, felt a shooting pain, or gained 5 lbs. If you’re seeing a family doctor, he or she will even know your family health and genetic history. “As a primary care physician, my main job is to know my patient. That’s the basis for the relationship because that’s how I deliver the best quality of care to the patient, and by knowing the patient, appropriately go through the different diagnoses and right treatment options,” said Dr. Kirti Gupta, a primary care provider at CHI Health Clinic in Nebraska.
2. They intimately follow your treatment regimen.
Primary care physicians guide you through treatment, which may be complicated, including medications, many tests, and multiple specialist visits over a period of time. Not only do they encourage you to abide by the regimen, but they also monitor your results and help follow up on specialists’ recommendations.
3. They provide better, more comprehensive disease management.
Because primary care providers not only know you but also closely follow your treatment, they avert complications and achieve better, faster results. “Earning my patients’ trust makes it easier to get them to adhere to or comply with a regimen that ends in a better managed disease and leads to less complications and adverse reactions,” said Gupta.
4. They save you money.
By detecting diseases early, patients save on health care costs, such as pricey procedures, medications, and specialist visits.
5. They prevent diseases from manifesting, giving you routine testing like annual physicals.
6. They keep you on track with your immunizations, exams, procedures, screenings, and other health needs.
Your primary care doctor acts as your point person, reminding you of the need for a colonoscopy or mammogram, tracking your treatments through specialists, and overseeing hospital stays, among many other things. He or she acts as your medical coach, teacher, and advocate who helps you maintain a life of comprehensive wellness.
7. They’ll help you find competent specialists.
When necessary, they can refer you to trustworthy specialists for further testing. Plus, they can provide important insights about you to those specialists who can use that information to make the appropriate diagnosis.
8. They’ll give you highly personalized care.
Surveys show that patients who feel they’ve been individually considered in the treatment process feel more satisfied with their care and prove more likely to adhere to “doctor’s orders.” They trust their doctor’s recommendations and care. “When I get a hug from my patient for helping to keep them healthy, that moment has to be the most favored and priceless moment that I have,” said Dr. Gupta.
9. They emphasize disease prevention and wellness.
By coaching patients into changing their health behaviors early on, primary care physicians help patients avoid conditions they’re at risk to develop, and these doctors give more comprehensive and integrated care.
Because the long-term relationship between you and your primary care physician enables the continuity of strong care, open communication is key. CHI Health, a regional health network in Nebraska and southwest Iowa, wants you to with whom you feel comfortable sharing information and who you trust will help make the best decisions about your care. To find out more about CHI Health, comprising a group of 15 hospitals, two stand-alone behavioral health facilities, and more than 150 physician locations across Nebraska and Iowa, visit