What exactly is primary care?
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine defines primary care as “the provision of integrated, accessible health care services by clinicians who are accountable for addressing a large majority of personal health care needs, developing a sustained partnership with patients, and practicing in the context of family and community.”
Primary care incorporates several different kinds of healthcare services.
One part of primary care focuses on wellness and prevention. To keep you healthy and free of disease, your primary care doctor will likely:
take a careful look at your health history so they can determine what risk factors you may face
offer vaccinations to keep you from catching a disease
perform screenings so they can catch health issues early
coach you on lifestyle changes you can make to stave off illness in the future
Why is primary care important?
Nobody wants to feel like a number in a vast, impersonal system — especially when it comes to something as important as taking care of your health.
Primary care is meant to be your main source for healthcare, one in which you have an ongoing partnership with your healthcare provider in the larger context of your community. Primary care is designed to:
give you better access to healthcare
lower your costs
improve your health outcomes
Many people find that primary care is a better alternative than going to the emergency room because it’s a less expensive and a less time-consuming way to treat basic, acute illnesses or injuries.
According to the Council on Graduate Medical Education, people who have easy access to a primary care provider tend to spend less money on their healthcare and are healthier, too.