- Over time your primary care physician (PCP) gets to know you personally. He or she is familiar with your medical history, your family history and your risk factors. Regularly seeing your PCP can help improve your health. It could even extend your life.
- PCPs coordinate your overall care, keep track of medicines and treatments and provide or recommend preventive care. Regular checkups and health screenings can catch medical conditions early. That allows for early treatment and possibly a cure.
- If you have a significant health issue, your PCP can help guide you through the complex health care system.
- When you need specialized care, your PCP can match you with specialists who are likely to work well with you. That’s because your PCP knows you and understands the big picture.
- The personal relationship between you and your doctor makes two-way communication easy. Often health care decisions are made through a series of related conversations over time. That’s why you need a doctor who really knows you, your background and your medical path.
How to choose a primary care physician
Now that you know why you need a PCP, how do you choose one? Ask family or friends with similar values for recommendations. Check websites for reviews. Look at training and certifications as well as the office location, hours and insurances accepted.
When selecting a PCP, there are three categories from which to choose:
- Family practice doctors: Family physicians provide care for patients of all ages—in other words, the whole family. A wide scope of training makes it possible for these doctors to care for all types of conditions across the lifetime. In fact, they often see several generations of the same family.
- Pediatricians: These providers care for children, from infants to age 18. Their focus on childhood health, along with their natural ability to relate to young people, makes it easy for children, teens and parents to feel comfortable with them.
- Internal medicine doctors: Internists are specialists in adult medicine. Their training might allow more focused attention on complex adult and senior needs.
Going beyond credentials
Your PCP should match your beliefs about medicine and treatment options. For instance, are you more comfortable with traditional western approaches or do you prefer a PCP who focuses on integrative medicine, such as naturopathic, holistic or traditional Chinese medicine?
The bottom line is that you want to find a doctor you like, someone you trust and can talk with easily. That way, you can share concerns and have open communication.
Where can you connect with a Lake Health physician?
For a physician referral, call the Best of Health Line at 800-454-9800 or go to lakehealth.org and click on “Find a Physician” on any page. Many Lake Health Physician Group providers offer convenient online scheduling:
About the author
John Baniewicz, MD, is board certified in internal medicine. He trained at Akron City Hospital, and his special medical interests are treating diabetes and high blood pressure.
Looking for a primary care physician? Our physician finder can help you find the doctor who is right for you. Or call the Best of Health Line at 800-454-9800 for a physician referral.