(From Dr. Bill Kose with Blanchard Valley Health System)
Navigating the world of health care can sometimes feel complicated, but it’s an easier process when you have a primary care provider on your side.
However, many people don’t have one. They may not be particularly worried about it. If they’re not sick, they may assume, why should they go to a doctor? Urgent care and the emergency room are available, after all.
But there are pitfalls to this approach. First of all, receiving health care solely in the emergency room is more expensive, and keeps the emergency room congested.
Also, a primary care provider will conduct routine screenings and ask about your personal and family health history in more detail, while working to build a relationship in the long term.
And it is indeed a relationship, as much as anything. A patient and primary care provider get to know one another over time.
That trust may allow for more honest and open conversations. This is especially important for patients who feel self-conscious discussing certain health concerns, such as depression or sexual health issues. While providers at urgent care or the emergency room will also provide excellent care, there isn’t as much time to build a relationship, so the patient may not bring up all of their health questions.
A primary care provider can also be a great sounding board if you have a symptom that is worrying you. They may help find easy ways to address it, whether with medication or lifestyle changes. They can also tell you when going to a specialist or getting further testing is warranted.
Additionally, they may be able to help relieve stress related to your health. Sometimes a patient may worry more than they need to, as a situation is not as serious as they think. If it is more serious, the provider will help patients come up with a plan to address it, which may help the patient feel more of a sense of control over the situation moving forward.
Long-term relationships with providers means that they can see patterns, like how weight and blood pressure change over time. They will run laboratory tests and remind patients of screenings that may be recommended at certain stages of life. They’ll also ensure that patients don’t miss needed vaccines that can help them stay healthy.
Providers today want to work with their patients as a team. While the provider will advise you of lifestyle changes to make, such as modifying your diet or quitting smoking, the goal is not to lecture, but instead work in partnership with you to improve your health.
If you don’t currently have a primary care provider, now is a great time to start that relationship. The provider can help you prevent long-term health problems and improve your quality of life in the here and now.
Blanchard Valley Health System has primary care providers throughout Northwest Ohio. Please call 419.422.APPT to set up an appointment, or if you have any questions about the process.
William Kose, MD, JD Vice President of Special Projects, Blanchard Valley Health System