The Importance of Primary Care, and Being an Advocate For Your Health
Written By: Edgar A. Pollak, MD on April 11, 2019
Often times, people believe that they only need to see their doctor when they are experiencing a problem. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As a primary care professional, my role is to ensure that my patients are appropriately treated in a manner consistent with their values and desires. For many, this means providing care that will prevent future problems.
Having a PCP (primary care provider), and going for annual check-ups is extremely beneficial. We are often the first to detect initial warning signs of a problem which allows us to treat the illness early on, rather than at the later stages, possibly avoiding costly emergency room visits. Also, studies show that having a PCP lowers the odds of premature death by almost 20 percent compared to those who only see specialists, and it’s been reported that individuals with a PCP spend less money on health care costs than those without a PCP.
How to Get the Most of a Medical Visit
Although having a PCP is a great first step in your health care journey, it’s not the only important one. You must also be an advocate for yourself. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your medical visit.
Ask questions, knowledge is power. The more you understand your health, the better prepared you are to assess your options.
Understand your health insurance policy and know how it works. Check your own individual plan to find a list of all the resources available to you, as well as your financial responsibility for services.
Keep track of your own medical records. Keeping track of dates and what was discussed at your last appointment can create a more time-efficient appointment, and allows you to adequately discuss any changes or new developments in your health history. CNE patients can sign up to view their medical information through MyChart at Care New England.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. Medical research is constantly advancing and getting the opinion of two qualified professionals can be even more beneficial.
Double-check your medical bills. Keeping an eye on these bills can quickly alert you to a discrepancy, and lead to a faster resolution.