Primary care providers, also known as PCPs, are the backbone of the healthcare system. Learn why everyone should have a PCP in today’s infographic!
Why Everyone Needs a PCP
Primary care providers, also known as PCPs, are considered the backbone of the healthcare system. These medical professionals are a person’s main healthcare provider in non-emergency situations, and are trained to treat common conditions, and to direct their patients to specialists, if needed. Since PCPs generally care for patients over a long period of time, they usually have extensive knowledge of a patient’s overall physical and mental health.
What do PCPs do?
- Provide preventive care and teach healthy lifestyle choices.
- Identify and treat the most common acute and chronic medical conditions.
- Assess the urgency of a medical problem and direct patients to the best place for that care.
- Make referrals to medical specialists when necessary.
Why everyone should have a PCP
A person with an established PCP is more likely to:
- Have a chronic disease under control
- Have lower overall healthcare costs
- Experience higher satisfaction with their care
- Receive recommended preventive screenings, tests and vaccines
- Receive preventive care, which means that diseases are caught and treated earlier, leading to better health outcomes
PCPs are trained to treat the entire person, physically, mentally and emotionally.
PCPs coordinate your care by making sure that everyone involved in your care is on the same page.
The role of PCPs in the US healthcare system is becoming increasingly important because:
- 7 out of 10 deaths are caused by chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Many of these deaths are preventable.
- Almost 1 out of every 2 adults has at least one chronic illness.
PCPs get to know their patients’ preferences, family situation, and job pressures. This knowledge leads to a trusting, lasting relationship, in which the patient and PCP work together to meet the patient’s goals.
Types of PCPs
Family practitioners are doctors who have completed a family practice residency and are board certified, or board eligible, for this specialty. The scope of their practice includes children and adults and may include obstetrics and minor surgery.
Pediatricians are doctors who have completed a pediatric residency and are board certified, or board eligible, in this specialty. The scope of their practice includes the care of newborns, infants, children, and adolescents.
Internists are doctors who have completed a residency in internal medicine and are board certified, or board eligible, in internal medicine. The scope of their practice includes the care of adults of all ages for many different medical problems.
Geriatricians are doctors who have completed a residency and are board certified, or board eligible, in geriatrics. They often serve as a PCP for the elderly.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) are practitioners who may choose to work in a primary care setting. They act as a patient’s primary medical provider. They are licensed to practice medicine with different levels of physician supervision, depending on individual state laws.
When choosing a PCP, consider:
- Is the office staff friendly and helpful? Is the office good about returning calls?
- Are the office hours convenient to your schedule?
- How easy is it to reach the provider? Does the provider use email?
- Do you prefer a provider whose communication style is friendly and warm, or more formal?
- Do you prefer a provider focused on disease treatment, or wellness and prevention?
- Does the provider have a conservative or aggressive approach to treatment?
- Does the provider refer to other specialists frequently or infrequently?
- What do colleagues and patients say about the provider?
- Does the provider invite you to be involved in your care? Does the provider view your patient-doctor relationship as a true partnership?
- Does the provider have technology capabilities such as electronic health records (EHRs), a patient portal, e-prescribing capabilities and online appointment booking?
To find a primary care provider (PCP) near you, download the free health app iTriage or visit www.iTriageHealth.com.
A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia: “Choosing a Primary Care Provider.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “National Prevention Strategy: America’s Plan for Better Health and Wellness.” Mass.gov: “The Importance of Having a Primary Care Physician.”