July 17, 2019

Having a Primary Care Physician Can Make You Healthier

By uclahealth
Doctor taking a patient's blood pressure

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) involving more than 70,000 Americans found that having a primary care physician (PCP) may improve long-term health.

People with a PCP were more likely to have a preventive health visit in the previous year and to take prescription medicines routinely. They reported a better overall patient experience and improved access to healthcare services.

Prevention-based medical services

When you have a long-term relationship with your PCP you receive personalized care. Your PCP takes the time to get to know you and has a comprehensive understanding of your medical history. They consider your whole health, with an emphasis on preventing illness rather than merely treating it.

Routine screenings are important for identifying health issues early. People who regularly see their PCP have access to:

  • Blood pressure readings
  • Blood work including cholesterol levels
  • Cancer screenings including mammograms, colonoscopies and Pap smears
  • Neurological screenings
  • Mental health screenings

Your PCP also provides advice and education around healthy lifestyle issues such as:

  • Healthy weight and nutrition
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) prevention
  • Curbing stress and anxiety
  • Limiting alcohol and tobacco use
  • Skin care and skin cancer prevention

Care for chronic diseases

Should health concerns arise, your PCP is the point person for ensuring you receive the care you need. They may refer you to a specialist for a higher level of care, manage conditions themselves or manage conditions in partnership with a specialist. Common chronic conditions that require vigilant care include:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Help when you get sick

Even the healthiest among us become ill sometimes. When you know and trust your PCP, you gain easy access to acute care, whether you experience flu symptoms or a sprain. Your PCP may offer immediate solutions to get you feeling better, such as:

  • Breathing treatments
  • Antiviral drugs following a flu diagnosis
  • Antibiotics for an infection
  • Support for short-term mental health concerns, including postpartum depression

You can find a provider on the UCLA Health website, or call the Physician Referral Service at 800-UCLA-MD1 if you need assistance finding a provider who is right for you.

Tags: chronic disease, Healthy Living, pcp, preventive medicine, Primary Care, Wellness

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