Primary healthcare is essential for everyone of every age, but for individuals 65 and over, a solid healthcare home base is particularly important. Not only do seniors have unique health needs and challenges, but they can benefit in a multitude of ways from a straightforward, seamless system that delivers high-quality care — saving them money, time, and energy in the process.
Healthcare terminology can be confusing, so having a concept of what “primary care” really is can help underscore its value for seniors. At its core, primary care encompasses a variety of services with a focus on building and cultivating a long-term partnership with patients. This approach to medicine is “person-centered,” meaning providers take a patient’s full scope of health factors into account and work with them to create sustainable, effective action plans for better health.
Primary care physicians are trained in family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics and can provide care to individuals from all walks of life of all ages. That means that anyone that is seeking care for a chronic concern, an acute issue, or is just trying to be more proactive in their health can greatly benefit from having a primary care provider at the center of their care. Learn more about what a primary care provider can help with here.
So why is all this particularly crucial for seniors? Here are just a few reasons primary care is an essential piece of the healthcare puzzle for people 65 and older:
1. Seamless, integrated care
Over the past few decades, healthcare has become increasingly more specialized and fragmented. In fact, almost one in three seniors now sees at least five doctors a year. While it’s great to be able to receive treatment from experts with extensive knowledge in a particular field, managing appointments, prescriptions, and guidance between numerous providers can be stressful and overwhelming, especially when you’re not feeling well. That’s where having a primary care provider can be beneficial. A primary care provider can serve as your medical home base, helping you monitor your health, keep track of changes, set goals, and coordinate care with specialists, so you don’t have to. Primary care physicians are the ones who can make referrals when necessary and who can act as the go-between for different specialists, relieving both patients and their caregivers of the burden of relaying information back and forth. When a patient is part of a primary care practice, they can see a variety of providers within that practice, receive lab work and other tests, and rest assured that all their information will be organized within the same system, ensuring continuity of care. To put it simply, primary care providers act as long-term healthcare partners who understand the unique needs of patients of all ages.
2. Early detection and management of chronic conditions
Regular check-ups and a long-term relationship with a primary care provider can help improve the odds of early detection for chronic illnesses. According to research, a greater supply of primary care physicians is “associated with an earlier detection of breast cancer, colon cancer, cervical cancer, and melanoma.” And because 85% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition and 60% have at least two chronic conditions, early detection is essential for better health outcomes. And if you are diagnosed with a chronic condition, your primary care provider can help you stay on top of it. Between regular screenings and follow-up visits, they can take some of the weight of a chronic condition off your shoulders, helping you manage your medications, providing educational resources, and suggesting lifestyle changes that can improve your quality of life. Additionally, because your primary care provider already knows your personal health history, they can treat your condition within the context of your broader health, especially if you have multiple chronic diseases. Learn about One Medical’s approach to chronic care here.
3. Reduced costs
Not only can primary care providers offer patients solutions to better manage medical expenses, but preventive medicine can also save patients money by reducing unnecessary trips to expensive specialists, urgent care, and the emergency room. In fact, studies estimate that roughly 30 to 66% of hospital emergency room visits are for non-urgent conditions, with the average cost for these visits being over $2,000 — meaning individuals are spending more on healthcare than they need to. Primary care providers can address many health concerns themselves, saving you costly, time-consuming visits to the ER or urgent care. Likewise, a relationship with a primary care provider can help you maintain your health and reduce your risk of health emergencies in the first place. Primary care providers can detect early warning signs for many conditions and develop a care plan to improve your overall well-being.
4. Convenience and streamlined communication
One of the biggest complaints most people have about healthcare is the administrative headache. Primary care practices are designed to not only act as a patient’s central point for all medical records, but the team is designed to help coordinate tests, treatments, specialist visits, and hospitalizations if necessary.
Primary care is an important tool for anyone of any age, but seniors in particular can greatly benefit from the myriad of positive attributes this type of preventive, coordinated, patient-centered healthcare has to offer. At One Medical, we have joined forces with Iora Health to deliver exceptional, human-centered, technology-powered primary care to more people in more places — across every stage of life. By acquiring Iora, we’re able to better address the needs of seniors, an important step in our mission to transform healthcare for all. Learn more about the acquisition here.
If you or someone you know is seeking a primary care practice that’s designed to deliver high-quality care for all, One Medical is here to help. Learn more about our primary services or book an appointment today.
The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, a national, modern primary care practice pairing 24/7 virtual care services with inviting and convenient in-person care at over 100 locations across the U.S. One Medical is on a mission to transform health care for all through a human-centered, technology-powered approach to caring for people at every stage of life.
Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. 1Life Healthcare, Inc. and the One Medical entities make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.