Primary care providers manage day-to-day health needs. A long-term relationship with a PCP keeps you healthier and lowers medical costs. A PCP can teach you ways to stay healthy, treat you when you’re sick and help you get more advanced care when you need it. Finding the right PCP for you takes time but improves your well-being in the long run.
A primary care provider (or PCP) is a healthcare professional who helps you manage your health. He or she is the first person you talk to when you have any medical problem that is not an emergency. PCPs are usually doctors, sometimes called primary care physicians. However, some nurses and physician assistants also provide primary care.
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A primary care provider will have a long-term relationship with you, helping you stay healthy or get better when you’re sick. Your PCP will be your partner, sharing the responsibility for your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Primary care providers are also called general practitioners, because they cover all types of everyday health concerns. Your PCP can answer questions about infections, chronic conditions or medicines. With regular visits, such as annual health checkups, your PCP will get to know much about you:
Everyday aspects of your history and lifestyle contribute to your overall health. A PCP will consider those factors and then:
Primary care physicians catch potential health problems early, before they become severe. People who have a PCP spend less time in the hospital and less money on medical costs in the long run.
A PCP gives you complete care over your lifespan. He or she will also know when you need more advanced care, like a hospital procedure or a specialist.
Many types of healthcare providers offer primary care. Different specialists are trained to see certain types of patients:
To be comfortable and develop a long-term relationship, it’s important to find a PCP who is qualified, fits your personality and accepts your insurance plan. Many strategies can help you identify the right provider:
When you are choosing a PCP, you may be able to schedule an interview to get to know the candidate. Ask questions that can help you decide if the person is a good fit for your personality, lifestyle and needs:
You also may want to consider the PCP’s overall office setting and the staff at the PCP’s office:
What are the office hours?
A PCP can help you stay healthy and can be the first to treat any health problems that arise. Make time to find a PCP who is a partner in your long-term care, and have regular checkups.
A relationship with a PCP can help you detect and manage a wide range of health issues. A PCP can teach you how to lead a healthier lifestyle, provide needed medications, screen for disease and recommend specialists when you need them. Look for a PCP who fits your personality and needs.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/05/2020.
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