What Are Primary Care Services?

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Charles Fazio

June 11, 2021

What Is Primary Care?

With the COVID-19 pandemic, people all around the world are paying closer attention to their health. If you are like most people reading this article, you want to take control of your healthcare and heard from friends, family, or searching on the internet, that you need a Primary Care Physician.

The word “primary care” seems so general and vague, you may be asking yourself “what are primary care services”?

Primary Care Doctors are highly skilled physicians that act as the first point of contact as well as provide continued care for individuals entering the medical care system with any undiagnosed symptom or health concern. They are often partnered with other health care professionals and act together as an integrated health care team that can diagnose and treating a wide variety of medical conditions. 

That sounds wonderful!

But what exactly does my primary care provider do?

Primary health care providers offer a range of services that have an overarching theme of preventive care, patient education, and treating any conditions that a patient may have. This includes chronic disease prevention, acute care, sick care, and specialized care based on the patient’s goals and specific medical needs. 

In the rest of the article below, we explore the common services that will be available to you when visiting a primary care clinic. 

Annual Physical Exam

One of the best ways to stay healthy and catch chronic illnesses before they have a chance to become a major issue through scheduling yearly physical exams. Surprisingly, although 80% of Americans have health insurance, 25% of those insured did not go for a routine checkup with their primary care practitioners in the last year. 

Beyond preventing a chronic condition and the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are taking care of your health, having a primary care physician, and receiving ongoing care is the best way to build relationships with health care professionals. Having a strong relationship with your provider built on trust, transparency, and respect is key for creating effective health care. 

Telehealth / Telemedicine

Telehealth can be described as the use of two-way digital communication technologies to provide comprehensive care in a variety of settings. Commonly telehealth is utilized through smartphones, tablets, laptop computers, and desktop computers as opposed to seeing your primary care clinician in person. This method of access to health services has been around for years but has recently been popularized due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is no wonder that using Telehealth to increase access to quality care is more important than ever, in a study done by Healthcare Business & Technology, they found that 85% of ER visits, urgent care, and doctor visits could have been handled safely and effectively over Telehealth video communications.

When doing a primary care visit through Telehealth, you are free to go over any health concerns that you may have, all from the safety and comfort of your home.

Chronic Illnesses

Six out of ten adults living in the United States have a chronic disease, four out of ten have two or more chronic diseases – making them the leading cause of death and disability.

One of the top goals for primary care practices is to prevent or mitigate chronic conditions through preventative care. Some of the most common chronic conditions include:

  • Lung cancer
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Chronic pain
  • High blood pressure

Unfortunately, these illnesses are not fixed on their own terms, and need medical attention plus support for conditions to be properly mitigated. Some of these conditions have immediately life threatening consequences such as stroke and heart disease, while others such as arthritis can be persistent throughout a person’s life. 

Diagnostic Tests

One of the key elements in the preventative nature of primary care services to detect minor health issues before they become a major problem is diagnostic tests. Depending on the patients age, stage of life, family history, and other risk factors they will have different recommended tests from their family medicine provider. 

Some of the most common tests that are provided at medical centers include: Complete Blood Count, Prothrombin time, Basic Metabolic Panel, Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, Lipid Panel, Liver Panel, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, Hemoglobin A1C, Urinalysis, and Cultures. 

  • Hemoglobin A1C – This diagnostic report shows the average blood sugar level in over the past 2-3 months. This test is used to diagnose diabetes and needs to be done regularly by people how are diabetic. 
  • Complete Blood Count – Also called “CBC” this is the most common type of blood test that is performed, regardless of medical concerns. It evaluates the red blood cells, white blood cells. and platelets that are found in the blood and can pinpoint a variety of health concerns and infections. 
  • Basic Metabolic Panel – This test helps study the effects of medications that the patient may be taking, such as high blood pressure medication, and can also be helpful in diagnosis. Some of the main things that are tested for in the blood include potassium, sodium, chloride, carbon dioxide, calcium, glucose, and electrolyte balance. 
  • Lipid Panel – The lipid panel is used to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease, and to monitor treatment progress in patients with unhealthy lipid levels. Lipids are groups of fats and similar substances that act as energy sources. During a general lipid panel, the family physician is looking at: total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). This test is important overall because staying withing a healthy range for these lipids is important for your overall health. 
  • Prothrombin Time – This test measures blood clotting, more specifically how long it takes the blood to clot. This is important for your health because clotting abnormalities can be dangerous long term.
  • Urinalysis – This is a generalized screening of urine used to detect disorders such as kidney disease and urinary tract infections. The test examines the concentration, physical appearance, and content of the urine.

Referrals To Specialists

When a patient shows up with an unknown and / or undiagnosed health condition, your healthcare provider will diagnose and formulate the best treatment plan for you depending on what aspects of care you require.

Depending on the patient, specialty care may be deemed necessary. When this is the case, your provider will be able to refer you to top quality specialized care. 

Many clinics now offer an integrated system that reaches beyond basic health care needs, which may include primary health care, chiropractic, massage therapy, physical rehabilitation, physical therapy, and mental health counseling all in the same building.

This is a major advantage because all these healthcare professionals will work together as a team to come up with a strategy based on your goals, resulting in a highly personalized and clearly communicated level of care. Depending on your family size, medical centers that offer this kind of specialized care can be an excellent choice for trusted and dependable care for the entire family. If you have children and are looking out for their wellbeing this is the perfect time to start building a lasting patient-clinician relationship. 

Importance Of Having A Primary Care Provider

When it comes to something as important as health, nobody wants to feel left out. Primary care practices provide an incredible opportunity to creating a ongoing partnership with your primary care physician that is built on mutual trust and respect.

Let’s face the truth, having access to healthcare services early on to diagnose and properly combat any health condition is a better alternative than ending up in the emergency room. Accessible health care also helps to:

  • Lower Health Costs
  • Give patients a higher level of comfort 
  • Identify issues early on
  • High quality of care
  • Avoid ER visits
  • Referrals to other health care services 

If you would like to learn more statistics about why you need a primary health care provider, please check out our article “4 Reasons Why You Need A Primary Care Physician (Get One Today!)“.

Do not wait. Take control of your health today.