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5 Benefits of Primary Care

In an increasingly complex medical world, having one doctor who knows your health history has become highly important.

Researchers at the journal Health Affairs found that patients who have a primary care provider benefit from better management of chronic diseases, lower overall health-care costs and a higher level of satisfaction with their care.

Here are the five most important ways building a relationship with a primary care provider —generally considered to include the specialties of internal medicine, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics — can improve health care for you and your family.

1. Continuity

Having a single physician who has seen you for everything from bellyaches to immunizations to blood-pressure control means having a health resource who knows your history. When you have an appointment, you don’t have to explain that there’s heart disease in your family or list the medications you’re taking and in what doses- it’s all in your medical record already.

2. Convenience

Within a primary care practice, you can assess a wide variety of health services: preventative care and screenings; care for chronic conditions such as asthma, hypertension and diabetes; and acute care for problems like coughs and high fever.

3. Health maintenance

Your primary care doctor can help you avoid health problems. Based on the doctor’s examination and your medical history, he or she can determine whether you’re at increased risk for conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, and then help you take steps to prevent them from developing.

4. Early detection

Regular checkups and contact with a single physician make it more likely that any health issues will be detected early when they’re most treatable.

5. Better communication

When patients know their physician and the practice staff, visits are less stressful and more productive. It’s easier to talk about sensitive issues with someone you know in a familiar setting than with a stranger in a strange place.