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While children routinely visit the family doctor for an annual check-up, the same is not true for adults. In fact, nearly 93 percent of children versus 82 percent of adults have seen their healthcare provider in the last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a sudden medical need arises (e.g. flu symptoms, persistent back pain, body rash, high fever, etc.), a family physician could be the right answer for most healthcare situations. Using more primary care physicians, including family doctors, can help better address patients’ healthcare needs as well as reduce healthcare costs. Here are some reasons to visit the family doctor.
- Continuity of Care–A primary care physician tracks an individual’s health and well-being over a prolonged period of time. Therefore, when and if problems arise, a family physician would be well-equipped to diagnose and deal with the issue(s) promptly because they are aware of their patient’s health history.
- Building a Relationship Over Time–If a person does not see a doctor regularly, they cannot build a relationship with their healthcare provider. By making a connection and building a relationship with an experienced physician, they will get to know their patient and be able to pinpoint any warning signs that might arise.
- Lower Healthcare Costs–A healthcare provider who knows their patient’s health history, habits, and personality can more easily recognize signs that indicate a potential change in their health or well-being. For instance, if a patient complains of unexplained and frequent fatigue, their family doctor will be able to see that the patient is not feeling right. Moreover, a provider, who has seen this patient for regular follow-ups, will be able to determine that a mole on the patient’s back is not a cause for concern because it has not changed in shape or color in the 10 years they have known and treated the patient. Thus, reducing the need for expensive, unnecessary testing as well as anxiety for the patient.
- Referrals Made Easy–If a patient requires a specialist, a primary care physician will be able to refer their patient to someone they know and with whom they have a collaborative relationship. That way, the patient will get the care they need and the family doctor will be updated on the treatment of the patient as well as their progress.
- Better Time Management and More Efficient Care–Building a relationship with a consistent healthcare provider can help patients get treatment more quickly and efficiently should they get sick in the future. In fact, since a family doctor knows and tracks a patient’s medical history, many minor issues could be resolved over the phone or via email (e.g. a routine prescription, an order for a blood draw, etc.).
- Manage Chronic Illnesses and/or Disorders–If a patient suffers from a chronic illness or disorder (e.g. heart disease, emphysema, asthma, diabetes, etc.), a primary healthcare provider is often the first line of defense and a key player in helping the patient monitor as well as manage their medical condition(s). A family doctor can help the patient control their ailment(s) and enhance their well-being.
- Prevent Future Illness–If a patient is aware of their health and visits their doctor at least once a year for an annual physical, chances are their primary healthcare provider can help the patient maintain their health and well-being, as well as prevent chronic illnesses in the future. For example, when a patient visits their physician regularly, the doctor can monitor them for issues including weight loss, high body mass index (BMI), STD prevention, substance abuse, stress and/or anxiety, as well as a host of other treatable ailments.
Unfortunately, instead of visiting a family doctor, many Americans use the hospital emergency room (ER) or urgent care clinics as their primary source of healthcare. This is one reason why healthcare costs are soaring in the U.S., yet still rank far below acceptable standards in health outcomes. There are many reasons for and benefits to visiting the family doctor. For starters, using more primary care physicians, including family doctors, would help to drastically reduce healthcare costs and inefficiency in this country. Hopefully, this article will encourage readers to find a primary care physician they can trust and visit their family doctor on a regular basis, in order to maintain their health and well-being. Thus, lowering their risks for future health problems and reducing healthcare costs in the future.
Written and Edited by Leigh Haugh
U.S. News & World Report Health–The Most Common Patient Complaints
Cleveland Clinic–5 Reasons You Should Have a Family Doctor
Huffington Post–Most Common Reasons for Seeing a Doctor Revealed in New Study
OneMedical.com–The Case for Having a Primary Care Physician