Why Primary Care is Important
A Brief History of Primary Care
The concept of primary care has evolved over time. In the early 20th century, general practitioners were the first primary care providers. They were responsible for addressing the majority of health needs faced by patients. General practitioners, however, operated out of private practices that inadvertently siloed a patient's health information.
This kept specialists, and any other care providers, from understanding a patient's full health history when providing care. Primary care’s role as the first touchpoint for a patient's health had not yet been established.
"[Primary Care] is the first level of contact of individuals, the family, and community with the national health system bringing health care as close as possible to where people live and work, and constitutes the first elements of a continuing health care process.”World Health Organization, Declaration of Alma-Ata
The Importance of Primary Care
In 1978, the World Health Organization held a landmark international conference where it was proclaimed that primary care was crucial to reaching a state of “health for all” across the world.
The conference collectively stated that:
“Primary health care is essential health care based on practical, scientifically sound, and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community…It is the first level of contact of individuals, the family, and community with the national health system bringing health care as close as possible to where people live and work, and constitutes the first elements of a continuing health care process.”
The international conference cemented the importance of primary care as the main touchpoint that ensures patients have an opportunity to manage their health before it becomes problematic. Since this proclamation, primary care physicians have led the way as the first contact and principal point of care for their patients.
What Are the Benefits of Primary Care
Today, primary care is more accessible than ever before. Health care centers and hospital systems have evolved to include primary care as an important department. Primary care physicians, along with specialists and nurses, are now increasingly crucial parts of the teams caring for patients. You, the patient, benefit by having someone on your health care team who understands your full history and ensures you get relevant, timely care when you need it most.
How else do you stand to benefit from having a primary care provider?
Primary Care is Proactive Care
Having a primary care provider allows you to be proactive about your health care. With regular visits, your provider can ensure your mental and physical health is in order. They’ll recommend regular screenings periodically, make proactive suggestions such as a vitamin regiment to maintain your overall health, and seek to diagnose any diseases before they become problematic. When you take a proactive instead of a reactive approach to your health, you increase your chances of living a fuller, healthier life.
Primary Care Physicians are Health Advocates
Part of a primary care provider's job is to maintain a full record of your medical history. This allows them to reference their past diagnosis of your health when making complex decisions or evaluating a recent health development you experience. But the benefits of visiting one provider over a long period of time go beyond medical records.
Establishing a relationship with a provider allows you to become comfortable bringing forth any concerns you may have about your health. It also places your primary care provider in a position to advocate for you in most health-related matters. They know you best and can speak with authority about your health when communicating with specialists or other health care providers.
Primary Care Physicians are First Responders
As stated earlier, primary care providers are the first responders when it comes to matters of your overall health. They’re the initial touchpoint responsible for diagnosing, making recommendations to specialists, and ensuring your health history is being considered throughout any procedures. Primary care providers are also the go-to resource for common health needs such as vaccinations and screenings.
During your regular checkups and visits, larger problems can be diagnosed. Having a regular primary care provider gives you access to an invaluable resource that is ready to handle the vast majority of your health concerns. If the health concerns you have can be better served by a specialist, they’ll know exactly who to recommend to best suit your needs.
Choosing a Primary Care Physician
Schneck is honored to have some of the most expert, passionate, and caring primary care providers in Indiana. Check out our Primary Care page to learn more about our incredible department and meet our doctors.
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