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Relationships matter: Why it's important to have a primary care provider

May 10, 2017 By Amanda Angelotti
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We believe that the better we know you, the better we can treat you. And a huge part of that is cultivating an ongoing relationship with your primary care provider (PCP), as well as our entire supporting team — from our virtual medical team on the phone or app to the person who greets you at the front desk.

What does a PCP do?

Your PCP is, essentially, the quarterback of your care — the hub for everything related to your health. That means your PCP becomes an expert in you and your health goals, helping navigate the system, translating test results, and working with specialists to make sure you’re getting better. In short, your PCP is your partner and biggest health advocate — they make sure you get better, more personalized care.

But what if I’m pretty healthy?

If you’re healthy, you might reasonably see different practitioners over time for acute needs, like a cold or an ankle injury. But it’s beneficial for even our healthiest patients to build a relationship with a PCP.

Transactional health care works until it doesn’t. Whether it’s due to an unexpected injury or just simply getting older, almost everyone will eventually need more long-term medical help.

It happens to all of us! At age 30, I was healthy and active, but after experiencing joint pain, I was diagnosed with a congenital hip condition that required invasive surgery and lengthy rehabilitation. At the time, as a physician-in-training myself, I thought: I can be my own PCP.

Wrong. I had a world-class surgeon, an exceptional physical therapist, supportive friends and family, and, of course, a massive advantage in my medical training. But what I really needed was an objective third party to help me weigh the positives and negatives of having the procedure at all, to help me figure out a coordinated plan for all of that rehab — a PCP, someone who was also an expert in me and my health goals.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While not every patient may need a comprehensive physical exam every year, it’s important to get preventive care. That includes clinically appropriate screening tests and immunizations, as well as a conversation about your health goals and wellness issues like sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and mental health. For those with chronic health conditions, having a relationship with a PCP helps you manage symptoms and prevent complications.

Having a healthcare partner with whom you can think more holistically about your health helps in a way that may not be obvious right away but can make a big difference over time — physically, emotionally, even financially.

How do I choose the right person?

At One Medical, we hire world-class providers who are intelligent, dedicated, and empathetic. So, what’s left? Here are some things you may 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 with areas like sports medicine or mental health. What are your needs and values?

Personality. You want a provider who feels right to you, but what that means varies from person to person. Are you looking for a great listener? Someone who’s more like a coach who can help motivate you to reach your health goals? Or maybe you want a provider who’s straightforward and just-the-facts.

Expertise. Perhaps you’d like a provider who sees a lot of patients like you — other women or LGBTQ patients, for example. Maybe you have a thyroid disorder and prefer a provider who has an interest in hormone-related conditions. The right provider for you will have a strong foundation in your personal health concerns.

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

Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, you can choose your PCP anytime — an annual exam or acute care visit, or even when you’re on the phone or a video visit. Our practitioners are familiar with each other’s practice styles, so any of us can help you find the right home.

Once you have a PCP, it’s good to see them for your annual physical or whenever you need care. Of course, if you have an urgent concern and your PCP isn’t available, someone else on our team can always help you.

If you’re already a member but haven’t selected a PCP, think of someone you’ve already seen and liked, and choose them when you log into your One Medical account. You can always switch providers if you find it’s not the right fit.

Still not sure whom to choose? Give us a call. Our team can guide you to the right person. We have outstanding providers at One Medical — and after you get to know one, you’ll be glad you did.

Meet our primary care providers and choose yours at onemedical.com.


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Amanda Angelotti

Amanda Angelotti, MD, works in clinical operations for One Medical. She writes educational content for patients and designs clinical guidelines and protocols for our health care providers. Before joining One Medical, she worked in tech product management and communications. Amanda completed her medical degree at UCSF.

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.