While scheduling an appointment with your Primary Care provider may seem unnecessary, especially when you are feeling well, but it could end up saving your life. In the United States, adults who have a primary care physician have 19% lower odds of premature death versus those who only see specialists for their healthcare needs. This is just one reason why it’s essential to make sure you are on top of scheduling and keeping your appointments with your primary care physician.
The central role of the primary care physician is to manage your healthcare by offering preventative care, offering recommendations for you to live a healthy lifestyle, and identifying and treating common or emerging medical conditions. They also point you in the right direction, referring you to a specialist when appropriate.
Annually, your primary care provider will suggest appropriate screening for health-related conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain cancers. Because many of these conditions may not cause early on, screening is critical to allow early treatment to minimize the risk of complication or even death.
For example, in the United States alone, approximately 1.5 million deaths were directly related to diabetes, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 36.9% of American adults age 20 and older were obese. The CDC also says that nearly half of adults in the nation have hypertension, but that only one in four adults has their condition under control. And, the American Cancer Society reports that there are nearly 1,600 deaths related to cancer per day. All of these conditions and more could have been prevented, detected early, or properly treated before the worst possible outcome, by seeing a primary care physician regularly.
Make sure to also give some thought to whom you select to be your primary care provider. This is the person you’re going to be discussing your most valuable asset with, your health. It’s important to select someone with whom you can have a positive and transparent relationship, someone who listens to you, not talks at you, and someone whom you respect, and trust. Many people who enjoy the care they receive from the primary care provider wind up staying with them for decades, making for a meaningful and productive healthcare relationship.
Remember, having a primary care provider gives you an advantage because they are trained to analyze your past and current medical history and attune to your disease risk factors. They can also work with you to create plans for your health-related goals to ensure you are living your best and healthiest life possible for many years to come. Everyone’s healthcare journey is different, so having someone looking out for your best medical interest is a win-win for everyone.
So, don’t delay scheduling your annual with your primary care provider, as it could be the appointment that saves your life!