Despite your age and current medical conditions, it is important to have a designated primary care physician. A primary care physician, or PCP, is someone that is at the center of your medical care. Even if you visit an emergency department or after hours urgent care center, your PCP is the physician that you will follow up with. Because they are in control of all your medical care needs, you want to pay attention to primary care physician reviews and choose one that you feel confident and comfortable with.
Annual visit to your primary care physician
Even if you go an entire year without any medical needs, you should schedule a checkup with your PCP at least once per year. During this visit, your PCP will do a basic inventory of your health, including eating habits, sleep routines, and a full blood work panel. If there are any concerns, they might send you to a specialist. Medical care is often more successful when it is preventative. Additionally, most insurance providers will completely cover this cost. Because you are going to visit with your PCP for your yearly exam, make sure you pay attention to primary care physician reviews, especially regarding competence and scheduling abilities.
Follow ups with your PCP
If you have ever been to the emergency department or a medical walk in clinic, chances are you were temporarily treated medically and then told to follow up with your PCP. This is because it can be difficult to prescribe medications and monitor symptoms when you only see the patient once and are not up to date on their full medical history. Any time you visit a mobile health clinic or community health clinic, make sure you are scheduling a follow up with your PCP immediately after.
Routine medical questions
There are some medical questions that arise that do not require a medical visit or even a visit to a family quick care center. If you already have an established PCP, you can contact them via phone or Email. If you are a regular patient of theirs, they are likely to answer your medical question, as long as it does not require an in office exam.
For example, doctors agree that sun damage can contribute up to 80% of skin aging, more than smoking, inadequate sleep, and dehydration. You might have some questions following a sunburn and it is unlikely that your PCP will ask you to come into their office. However, this is another great reason to pay attention to primary care physician reviews. You want to choose a PCP that you can develop a communicative relationship with.
Immediate medical care needs
Some PCP offices take weeks, even months to get into. If you experience a medical condition that needs immediate care, you could be required to sit in an emergency department waiting room for hours. Between 2003 and 2009, the mean wait time in ERs went up by a quarter, from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes. The wait time could be even longer at medical peak times. Always pay attention to schedule availability when it comes to primary care physician reviews. For serious emergencies, you want to visit the local ER, but some immediate medical care needs can be handled during a walk in with your PCP.
Although medical care needs are rapidly growing, PCPs are slightly declining. According to current data, the U.S. needs about 52,000 more primary care physicians by 2025 to meet our countries healthcare needs. Make sure you have a PCP that you trust, can consult on medical conditions with, and is available for appointments.