Why You Need a Primary Care Provider (PCP)
If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably made a New Year’s resolution or two. Maybe you want to quit smoking, lose weight, or simply get healthier. While it is estimated that only around 10 percent of New Year's resolutions actually stand the test of time, there is one resolution you can easily keep to improve your health in the New Year: Find a primary care provider (PCP) and schedule a physical.
Primary care providers are doctors or nurse practitioners (NPs) who serve as your first point of contact with the health care system. Your PCP focuses on your health and wellness and provides access to other specialties should you need them. Because he or she knows you and your medical history, it's easier for a PCP to diagnose and treat you.
Evidence shows that good access to a PCP can help us live longer, feel better, and avoid disability and long absences from work and school.
Primary Care Providers can:
- Provide patient education, including teaching healthy lifestyle choices
- Evaluate the urgency of your medical problems and point you in the right direction for care
- Ensure you get recommended medical screenings and health risk assessments
- Refer you to medical specialists when necessary
- Help you to avoid unnecessary testing or medications as part of reducing your health care costs
If you don't already have a PCP, it is important to choose a one with whom you feel comfortable sharing your concerns. Your PCP is not only your point person for an annual health tune-up, but also the person you call for an appointment when you’re sick, need a prescription filled, or simply to talk about recommended health screenings and risk assessments.
“I strive to develop a sustained partnership and personal relationship with my patients,” explains Khalil C. Alleyne, MD, specializing in family medicine at South Shore Medical Center. “I treat people, not diseases, and always aim to provide each patient with comprehensive, compassionate care.”
For those who already have a PCP but haven't visited in more than a year, take the time to schedule your physical now, while your health is top of mind. Treat your annual exam as one of the most important appointments you will have this year—because it is.
To live a healthy life, you’ve got to get involved in the process of staying well. A primary care provider can help guide the way to your healthiest year yet.
Dr. Alleyne is a primary care physician at South Shore Medical Center.