If you have a family medicine provider you see on a regular basis, you may be setting yourself up for better care, a healthier life and you might even save some money.
A 2017 poll, by the American Academy of Family Physicians, found that an overwhelming majority of Americans (89 percent) felt it was important to have a relationship with a physician who knows their health background and family history. A majority (86 percent) said they felt that primary care leads to healthier patients, higher quality care and lower costs.
Family medicine providers would agree with that assessment. As a patient’s first and most frequent point of contact, our role in health care is not only to handle day-to-day medical issues but also to improve your overall wellness. Family medicine providers do this by:
- Caring for the majority of your health concerns.
- Offering disease prevention and wellness strategies.
- Collaborating with you on health care decisions.
- Connecting you with referrals for specialty care, if needed.
Routine visits give us the opportunity to make sure you’re receiving the preventive care you need, from flu shots and blood pressure checks to cancer screenings. We are also trained to manage chronic conditions like heart disease, COPD and diabetes. We can optimize these conditions by seeing you on a regular basis.
In the process, we can build the kind of doctor-patient relationship which has been called a keystone of care. When we get to know you, we become familiar with your family history, lifestyle and overall health – which makes it easier to detect new symptoms or changes in your condition. As we develop this relationship, you’ll be more comfortable bringing up a new concern or even asking a sensitive question.
Your family medicine provider can be a primary care, internal medicine or obstetrics/gynecology specialist, and may be a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner. If you are choosing a new family medicine provider, you should consider several factors - the first being whether that provider is in network for your insurance. Location, availability and convenience are also factors.
To make sure you’re comfortable with your choice, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends asking yourself the following questions after an appointment with a primary care provider:
- Do you feel at ease with this provider?
- Did you have enough time to ask questions?
- Did he or she answer all your questions?
- Did he or she explain things in a way you understood?
Remember, even the healthiest adults need routine care. One study, by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, found that if everyone saw a family medicine provider first for care, the U.S. would save an estimated $67 billion each year. Having a trusted provider means you don’t have to navigate the system alone. Your go-to expert works with you to catch and treat problems early, and can guide you through more specialized care, if needed.
To learn more about family medicine at CHI St. Alexius Health, click here.
(Scot Mickelson, DO, is a family medicine provider at CHI St. Alexius Health Century Family Clinic. He specializes in osteopathic manipulation therapy, preventative health, sports medicine, geriatrics, and dermatology.)