What is a primary care physician?

What is a primary care physician?

Primary care providers (PCPs) are healthcare professionals who practice general internal medicine, general pediatrics, or family medicine. They play a critical role in the healthcare system. Bridging the gap between you and the healthcare system, primary care physicians provide general medical care for everyone. Primary care physicians are the patient’s first point of contact when seeking non-emergency medical care and are responsible for providing continuous care for the patient. Your primary care provider is someone that you can rely on to give you a clear picture of your health and is a trustworthy, knowledgeable resource.  

What does a primary care provider do?

Ideally, your primary care provider will have a long-standing relationship with you over years of helping you stay healthy mentally and physically. Primary care providers manage chronic diseases and prevention of diseases or illnesses. You will see your primary care provider for your annual wellness visit every year and age-appropriate preventative health screenings. From providing a diagnosis to formulating a treatment plan to monitoring your health, your primary care physician is there at every step of your health journey.  

Primary care physicians provide comprehensive, personalized healthcare to everyone.

Over the course of routine health checkups and sick visits, your primary care provider is someone who will get to know your medical history, your family’s medical history, and your current health. They will also help you establish your current health goals and get to know your personality, lifestyle, preferred treatment methods, and health challenges. This is valuable and essential information to provide quality, comprehensive, and personalized healthcare for you.   

What are the benefits of having a primary care physician?

  • Clinical studies have shown that having a long-standing relationship with a primary care provider keeps people healthier and reduces medical costs. 
  • They provide a place to document your entire health history and ongoing care.  
  • Studies show that seeing your primary care provider for your annual wellness visits helps increase the early detection of health problems before they become an issue.  
  • Your PCP will manage chronic illnesses or diseases you may have.  
  • Your primary care provider is someone who knows your medical history, current health, and health goals, making this someone whom you can trust to help you navigate your health journey.  
  • They can teach you how to improve your health through proactive lifestyle changes you can make.  
  • They can recommend certain screenings to detect problems early.  
  • They can provide access to a specialist if you need one (e.g., an endocrinologist). 
  • They can help you manage your vaccines/immunizations and make sure they are up to date. 
  • A study in 2019 showed that Americans with a primary care provider experienced significantly more high-value care than those without a primary care provider and reported experiencing improved healthcare access.  

When should I see my primary care provider?

How often you see your primary care provider may vary depending on your age and the health condition you may have. However, you should see your PCP when you are sick or have a sudden health concern (e.g., rash or ear infection). If you have a chronic health condition, you may have more frequent check-ups to monitor your health. On average, you should see your primary care provider for your annual physical and any health screenings you may need depending on your age and health conditions.  

Where do I find a primary care physician?

At Healthy Heart Clinics, we have a staff of experienced and compassionate primary care providers. If you are in need of a primary care provider, make an appointment with a location near you.

Bottom Line

Having a primary care provider is necessary for living a healthy life and creating a healthy future. A primary care provider is someone who knows you and can help you navigate your health. Not only can your PCP help you with your conditions or health concerns, but they can also teach you how to live a healthier lifestyle to better your mental and physical health. Check out one of our locations today! 

Written by the Healthy Heart Clinics’ editorial staff and reviewed by medical experts and advisors. These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about their individual health should consult their physician.

Written by Saragrace Keelin

Medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Tassin