While the emergency room is meant to serve cases of acute illnesses and trauma, individuals often use it for conditions that could have been treated by a primary care physician.
Primary care physicians a should be a patient’s first point of contact for all of their medical needs. They are able to provide continuous care and follow-up that men and women do not receive from ER physicians.
In fact, primary care physicians are essential for a healthy and long life, and they reduce the cost of healthcare for individuals and their community.
Here’s why primary care physicians are so important.
What Is a Primary Care Physician?
A primary care physician is trained in family, adult, or internal medicine and provides patients with health promotion, disease prevention, health maintenance, counseling, patient education, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses.
They often lead a team of other medical professionals, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners, and collaborate with specialists to ensure comprehensive diagnosis and treatment.
Primary Care Physicians Can Help Patients Live Longer and Healthier Lives
Primary care physicians are intimately familiar with a patient’s medical history, current conditions, medications, and allergies in a way that other providers are not.
This knowledge enables them to practice preventative care, including screenings and education, and avoid illness and disease that a patient may be predisposed to.
Routine checkups with a primary care physician can also allow early diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic conditions. As a result, patients are able to avoid complications and even premature death from an advanced illness.
Primary Care Physicians Reduce Costs for Individuals and the Healthcare System
Research suggests that individuals with a primary care physician spend far less on healthcare than their peers that only see specialists. In fact, patients spend significantly more on services rendered in the ER compared to costs at a primary care practice.
Additionally, seeking appropriate medical attention from a primary care physician rather than a specialist could potentially save the country billions of dollars in healthcare costs.
Especially since it’s more affordable to address conditions early than it is to treat severe or advanced illness.