What is a primary care provider? | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Having a primary care provider is part of making conscious health decisions

A primary care provider (PCP) helps to centralize your care, and regular visits can benefit your overall health for years to come.

A primary care provider centralizes your health care and is an important part of making health-conscious decisions. Regular visits to your primary care provider, even when you’re feeling fine, can positively affect your overall health.

Unfortunately, the number of adult Americans with a primary care physician has dropped in recent years. Individuals who choose to see a doctor only for urgent care when they’re feeling ill do not receive the same level of preventive care.

“Even if you are in good health, visiting a primary care provider annually can help prevent underlying conditions or potential concerns from developing,” said Jessica R. Stumbo, M.D., internal medicine/pediatrics physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – LaGrange. “We want to get ahead of issues and conditions. Finding a primary care provider is an important part of leading a healthy life for years to come.”

A trusted and comfortable medical home

Consistently visiting a primary care provider increases your comfort level. Annual wellness visits help your primary care provider develop a baseline to measure tests like blood pressure against. Your primary care provider will have an understanding of your health history and concerns, as well as potential solutions.

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Building trust with your primary care physician or nurse practitioner can make it easier to bring up topics that you may feel sensitive about.

A source of preventive health care

Increased familiarity with your health history allows for more consistent and holistic care. A primary care provider will keep track of potential health concerns based on your family health history. Your primary health care provider can help keep you on track for routine screenings and vaccinations that can help keep you well.

Your connection to specialists if needed

Primary care providers are efficient options for nonemergency health concerns. They will advocate for your health needs and will be able to connect you with specialist providers if you need specialized treatment.

A money-saving alternative to emergency care or postponed care

A primary care provider is more cost-effective than other care options. Unnecessary emergency room visits quickly become expensive. You should not hesitate, however, to visit the emergency room if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Regular screenings, an understanding of your medical history and open communication may increase the likelihood of your primary care provider catching a potential health concern before it becomes more difficult and more expensive to treat. Adults in the United States who have a primary care provider have lower odds of premature death than those who see only specialists for their care.

How to find a provider

When you’re ready to seek care with a primary care provider, find a list of “in-network” locations by consulting with your insurance company. Then you may narrow down your list by finding a provider located close to your home or work. If language is another important factor to check, ensure your provider is able to communicate with you easily and effectively. Another factor to consider is expertise: many providers specialize in family practice, internal medicine or general practice.

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