How and why should I find a doctor?
Megan J. Borror, MD | 08.05.13
A primary care provider is the only provider who specializes in YOU, the patient, in a comprehensive manner.
Many people don’t see a reason to visit their doctor unless they are sick. Additionally, there are many more who admit to not having a primary care physician at all.
Whatever name you choose when you think about your lifelong care—family doctor, primary care or internal medicine physician, or family care provider--establishing a relationship with this provider while you are well is very important.
The benefit of having a primary care provider (PCP) is we are the only provider who specializes in YOU, the patient, in a comprehensive manner. We do not just look at your heart or lungs or skin. We assess all of your organ systems. And, our focus goes beyond your physical well-being and considers your psychological and social conditions, too. PCPs are trained to help you prevent problems, rather than waiting until you develop symptoms. We also are skilled in helping to manage a wide range of chronic medical and psychiatric conditions, as well as acute issues such as colds, diarrhea, minor trauma and rashes.
Our job is to consider every part of your life from your stress level, habits, and family history to your diet, activity level, and current medical issues, just to name a few.
Last but not least, when you do have an illness or develop a chronic condition, we already know you and you know us, which improves the overall treatment process and experience.
A PCP is one of your best referral resources when you need a specialist, because your primary care provider knows you and your history. Many clinics and urgent care facilities do not have this information. Also, your PCP can order preliminary tests prior to your visit to a specialist and provide the specialist with important medical information about your care and problem. Common conditions that may require a specialist include severe diseases such as cancer, severe kidney, heart, psychiatric or lung diseases, as well as broken bones, etc. Your primary care physician will work with these specialists as part of an overall team assisting you to restore or maintain health.
Finding a primary care provider should start with identifying practices within about five miles of your home or office. The further away your provider is, the less likely you will be to use them. Most hospital websites have a "find the doctor" feature that lists all the physicians affiliated with a particular health system. It’s also important to think about what you want in your provider such as office hours, physician ages, etc.
Megan J. Borror, MD
Talk to your friends and coworkers. If they like their primary care provider, ask them why, because what they like may not be what you like. Most hospitals have lists of providers available, as do insurance companies. I recommend you see a provider who takes your insurance, and if you don’t have insurance, talk directly to the office. Many work with uninsured patients and offer discounts or payment plans.
Last but not least, go see the provider to assess the experience. Look for a provider who will listen to you and engage you in the overall care process and decisions about your care. Once you have found a PCP you like, sticking with them for your regular care can help you stay healthy.
Megan J. Borror, MD
West Hanover FamilyCare, PinnacleHealth Medical Group