The Crucial Role of Primary Care
Prairie du Chien – A primary care provider (PCP) is a health care practitioner who sees people that have common medical problems. A primary care provider can be a doctor, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or certified nurse midwife. He or she is the first point of contact for an undiagnosed health concern, as well as continuing care of varied medical conditions.
“There are many statistics that support the importance of establishing a primary care provider,” explained Maria Mathis, Clinic Director at Crossing Rivers Health. “For example, six out of ten adults in the United States have a chronic disease. Regular check-ups with a primary care provider can help prevent chronic disease. In addition, one in five individuals visit the emergency room when they are sick they could have made an appointment with a primary care provider. Primary care plays the role of managing common medical problems that are not emergent or require a specialty treatment.”
Below are ten reasons why having a primary care provider is important.
- Better management of chronic disease. Primary care providers can manage chronic conditions with medication and symptom management, along with providing education on the condition and appropriate lifestyle adjustments.
- Transparency of entire health history. Through routine care, a primary care provider becomes very familiar with a patient’s health history and can make individualized care plans based on that history.
- Lower overall health costs. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that a primary care-based system may cost less because patients experience fewer hospitalizations, less duplication of treatment, and a more appropriate use of technology. In addition, the organization states that U.S. adults who have a primary care physician accumulate 33% lower health care-related costs.
- Detect health issues early. Through routine care, a relationship forms between a patient and a primary care provider. This relationship, along with knowledge of health history, can provide the opportunity to detect some health issues early.
- Referrals to other medical specialists. Primary care providers can evaluate symptoms and arrange the appropriate referrals when needed. This can prevent confusion that can come with navigating the health care system, which can often be overwhelming and intimidating for patients. Beyond coordinating referrals, a primary care provider continues to provide oversight by providing a continuity of care for the patient.
- Better patient/provider communication. Once a patient/provider relationship has been established, patients typically feel more comfortable with the provider, allowing for improved communication and understanding.
- Decrease in hospital and emergency room visits. Primary care providers establish coordinated care plans with their patients to manage their symptoms, which can potentially prevent future hospital or emergency room visits.
- Routine screenings. Screenings are the key to early detection of chronic disease. A primary care provider provides regular communication with patients regarding the necessary routine screenings.
- Better preventative care. The goal of preventative care is to detect health problems before symptoms develop. Through routine care, a primary care provider becomes familiar with health history.
- Higher level of comfort. Primary care providers care for patients regardless of age or health condition, which can lead to a long-term enduring and trusting relationship and, ultimately, better health care for the patient and their family.
Crossing Rivers Health Clinic has two primary care locations in Prairie du Chien and Fennimore, Wisconsin. Individuals interested in establishing a primary care provider can contact Crossing Rivers Health Clinic at 608.357.2500. A list of primary care providers can be found at crossingrivers.org/clinic.
Photo: The primary care team at Crossing Rivers Health includes (front row L to R): Molly Schlegel, Board-Certified Nurse Midwife; Sue McMillan, Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner; Katy Maker, Board-Certified Nurse Midwife; (back row L to R): Terri Payne, Board-Certified Nurse Midwife and Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner; Dr. Kenneth Valyo, Board-Certified Doctor of Osteopathic Family Medicine; Brian Quick, Board-Certified Physician Assistant; and Charlene Sauer, Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant.