A significant partner in your health care is your primary care physician.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind as you search.
The role of primary care physicians, or PCPs, has become crucial in the
managed health care landscape. A PCP is often what most people just think
of as their—or their family’s—“doctor.”
Especially for Medicare patients, the PCP has great significance in today’s
health care system, mostly because patients in the Medicare age group
have more health issues.
Your PCP is crucial to your overall health because they will be seeing
you on a regular basis—at least once a year during the Medicare
senior wellness exam. That’s when your PCP will go through your
chart and check for any new allergies, any surgeries, any changes in the
family—especially cancer or heart disease, because they have a direct
impact on what you might be facing.
The PCP will review immunizations, follow up on bone density testing, and
screen for depression and dementia. Your doctor will also ask you about
falls, which can be a big deal in an aging population.
Finding a PCP with whom you can develop a good relationship is very important,
and the most crucial element in that relationship is communication. If
your doctor is more interested in telling you things instead of listening
to you, that’s not a good sign. Don’t be afraid of looking
around and changing your PCP if it just doesn’t seem to be a good
fit. That said, it’s always better to stick to one doctor who gets
to know you, your family and your issues.
If you do decide to make a change—especially with certain HMOs and
medical groups such as the nonprofit Torrance Health Independent Physician
Association (THIPA)—your records will travel with you. Torrance
Memorial and THIPA are continuing to develop a physician’s network
that can share information and a patient’s chart quickly and efficiently.
Your PCP’s responsibilities include referral to specialists. Although
many HMOs and medical groups such as THIPA allow self-referral, a primary
care doctor can get you to who you need to see first without going down
all the wrong pathways. There are many symptoms you might not even think
about. Getting to know your primary care doctor is key to getting good,
efficient health care and saving time and money too.
Need to see a doctor? Contact our physician referral coordinators to schedule
an appointment today. Call 310-891-6717.