A primary or family doctor is a central part of healthcare for many people. You might wonder why it's so important to choose a primary doctor, though. Here is how it can affect healthcare outcomes.
Treatment efforts don't always boil down to the doctor looking at a chart and writing a prescription. Oftentimes, a doctor needs to be familiar with a patient's current condition and how it might connect to past issues. They also should be familiar with problems that run in the patient's family. An ongoing relationship with a patient allows a doctor to become familiar with the person's history and continuing medical concerns.
Familiarity can make a difference if a medical condition appears to come out of nowhere. If a doctor doesn't know the patient's history, they could be stuck guessing. A primary doctor, however, will have a better sense of where to start the diagnostic process.
Your family doctor also serves as your gateway to various forms of care. They have relationships with many specialists, and they can refer you to someone who has worked well with their previous patients. Also, there's a good chance that a doctor will refer you to somebody who's already in your insurance network. Especially when time is critical, this makes a difference.
Understandably, people tend to think of their primary doctor as a starting point. However, your primary practitioner also can serve as a second opinion. When you visit a specialist, you can come back to your doctor to clarify concerns. Likewise, they can provide a list of other specialists if you want a second opinion. Particularly if you're discussing a major surgery or treatment plan, the added input counts.
Many of the benefits of medicine arise from the early detection of health problems. A primary doctor is the frontline against undiagnosed diseases and injuries. Simply going in for your annual checkup can be the difference between life and death if the doctor discovers something that might have gone overlooked for too long.
For example, your family doctor could identify melanoma in the early stages. Spotting it during a routine exam increases the odds that you'll get to a specialist in time to remove it before it can spread.
Finally, your primary doctor is the person who provides comprehensive treatment. Your main doctor is the one who's on the lookout for potentially dangerous drug interactions, for example. While other doctors work hard to avoid such issues, your family doctor is the one who tends to see the bigger picture.
Contact your primary doctor for more information.