Relationships Matter: Why You Need a Primary Care Provider

It's our philosophy that the better we know you, the better we can help you. Part of that is cultivating and ongoing relationship. Unfortunately, finding a primary care provider (PCP) can sometimes be a little like dating since personality and practice style matters. We know that we aren't right for everyone, but we are ok with that! 

What does a PCP do? 

Your PCP is the like the quarterback of your healthcare team. They are the hub of everything that is related to your health. This means that your PCP becomes an expert in understanding you and your health goals, helps you to navigate the healthcare system, translates tests results, and works with any specialists that may be needed to make sure you are getting the care you need. Your PCP is your partner in your healthcare as well as your biggest advocate. 

But what if I’m pretty healthy?

If you are healthy and feeling good overall, you might see different providers depending on your acute needs like an injury or acute illness. However, it is beneficial (and even recommended) for our healthiest patients to build a relationship with a PCP. 

Seeing a healthcare provider only when something is wrong is called "transactional health care" and it works just fine...until it doesn't. A side effect of getting older (yes, it's happening to all of us) is that eventually everyone will need more long-term medical help, and when you do, having a PCP who knows you in your corner is to your advantage. 

While every patient may not require a comprehensive physical exam every year, it is still important to get preventive care. This care includes screening tests and conversations about your health goals and any wellness issues you may be experiencing (sleep, physical activity, mental health, etc.). Anyone who has chronic health issues should have a relationship with a PCP to help manage those conditions and prevent any complications. 

Having a partner in your health care corner who can think more holistically about your health is important and helpful in ways that might not be immediately obvious, but make a big difference physically, emotionally, and financially over time.  

How do I choose the right person?

Here are some things that you might want to consider when choosing your PCP.

Clinical approach. Some providers are more traditional in their approach, while some incorporate complementary and alternative recommendations. Others are more experienced in areas such as sports medicine, mental health, or women's health. Consider your needs and values.

Our providers at Alaska Functional Medicine Clinic provide care that is both conventional/traditional and complementary/alternative. We feel that this holistic approach allows us to do what is best for our patients. 

Personality. You need to find a provider who feels right to you. What that means is different for everyone. Do you want someone who is a good listener? Someone who is more like a coach to help you motivate you to reach your goals? Or maybe you need someone who is going to tell it like it is or give you just the facts. 

Expertise. Providers in the medical field are just like anyone else who has hobbies, there are aspects of their practice that they find exciting or interesting, which tend to be the areas that they have the most expertise in (because they enjoy learning more about those aspects). 

Maybe you would like to see a PCP who sees a lot of other patients who are similar to you - women, LGBTQ, or patients who experience chronic pain. Maybe you want someone who has an interest in hormone-related conditions or someone who sees patients with complicated medical histories. 

The provider who is right for you will have a strong foundation in your personal health concerns and priorities. 

When should I choose a PCP? Who can I ask for help?

Once you have a general idea of who you are looking for, you can choose your PCP anytime. Schedule an annual exam or acute visit if needed. Sometimes finding the person who is right for you takes time. Ask your friends and family who they chose and why they like or dislike them. 

Once you have your PCP it's a good idea to see them yearly for your annual exam or whenever you are in need of care. 

If you are already a patient at Alaska Functional Medicine Clinic and we are not your PCP but you'd like us to be, let us know at your next visit! If you would like to make a provider at Alaska Functional Medicine Clinic your PCP, poke around our website a little more, find out who we are and what we are about, then call us to schedule an appointment!

If you have another provider who is your PCP, make sure that you let us know who that is at your next visit so we can share our records with them. Having too many healthcare providers can actually be harmful to your health (and your wallet), which is why designating a PCP can improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of the care you receive!