Great Care Starts with Your Primary Care Provider

IMG_2977 Great care starts with your primary care provider.

Do I need a primary care provider (PCP)? The short answer is yes.  Dig a bit deeper into the topic and we think you will quickly see for yourself the benefits of establishing a long-term care relationship with a PCP.  In a recent sit-down with Lakewood Health System’s Dr. Ryan Kroll, we discussed what he feels are the advantages of developing a long-term relationship with a primary care provider and how Lakewood’s care team philosophy is working to enhance this.

Your PCP is an advocate for life.

Toddlers, teens, middle-aged adults, or even retirees–regardless of age, a PCP can see the same patient for years or even decades. Relationships are built and trust is earned. Put simply, an established relationship with a PCP has been shown to keep you healthier as you age. Studies indicate that in areas of our country where there is more primary care, health outcomes are better and lower in cost. People are less likely to be hospitalized and there are lower death rates for cancer, heart disease, and stroke. “You hear the term ‘continuity of care’ used everywhere in health care today,” said Dr. Kroll.  “What this really means is that once you establish a relationship with a health care provider, that relationship continues to grow and deepen each year.  As a provider, I begin to gain a clear understanding of your overall health picture, your habits, and your preferences as a patient.  With this knowledge, together we can then work toward achieving your best health.”

Your PCP sees the total picture.

Once your provider has treated you for an extended period, they gain a better understanding of your medical history. Treating multiple generations within a family, including moms, dads, grandparents, and children can provide even greater insight into your health.  Are there conditions that run in the family, such as cancer?  Is there a history of heart disease, etc.? A detailed family health history can help your PCP make a more accurate diagnoses, monitor changes in your health over time, and even watch for red flags regarding certain medications.  “When I am fortunate enough to treat multiple generations within a single family, I get excited,” said Kroll. “Not only because I enjoy treating everyone from grandparents to children, but because I’m able to draw from an extremely broad health history that can often lead to quick diagnoses of conditions, as well as the prevention of others.”

Your PCP can treat more than you might think.

We all know your PCP can perform yearly wellness exams and treat your run-of-the-mill sinus infection, but did you know they can also help you manage chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes? As your primary point of contact, your PCP can help manage the symptoms of these conditions while also helping to administer and monitor a treatment plan to help manage patients day-to-day.  The result is a proactive approach to your health that not only keeps you healthier in the long run, but reduces cost.  It’s a win, win.  In addition, many primary care providers also deliver babies, providing both pre- and post-natal care to both mom and baby.  They can also perform minor procedures like administering stiches, treating injury, or freezing warts.

 Your PCP can help you find the right referral at the right time.

If you do need to see a specialist, your PCP can help you find one who fits both your needs and your personality. “This is an area that I feel your PCP can be invaluable,” said Dr. Kroll. “We can make sure we are getting you in to see the right specialist the first time. Self-diagnoses and referrals can often lead to unnecessary tests, increased costs, and high stress. As a PCP, I am able to partner with my patients and specialists to get the information we need quickly and efficiently to establish the best course of action moving forward.”

IMG_2975 At Lakewood, our “Care Team” approach ensures the best possible care.

When you find a great PCP, chances are they are going to be popular. After all, if you like your provider, others will too. To provide the access and care you need in a timely manner, Lakewood has implemented the practice of “care teams.” Let’s say you have a health care concern you’d like to discuss with your PCP. You’ve got time on your schedule to get in the following week, but your PCP’s schedule is booked for a solid three weeks. With our care team model, you could be seen immediately by another doctor or an advanced practice clinician (APC) within your provider’s care team.  Rather than waiting three weeks for an appointment, you’re able to get in quickly.  The provider you see reviews your medical history with your PCP and conducts your appointment. If there are any concerns or questions after your appointment, they will update your PCP on any changes to your medical history, as well as any additional treatment or care that is needed.

Every effort is made to provide you with the face-to-face time you desire with your PCP, however, in those situations where he or she may not be available, an entire team of health care professionals is responsible for your care—from physician assistants and nurse practitioners, to nurses, community health workers, mental health specialists, and pharmacists. The team works together to anticipate your needs, communicate their findings with each other, and make sure no aspect of your health slips through the cracks.

In a single visit, you could receive treatment from your PCP or another provider from their care team, do a preventative screening with a nurse or technician, and visit with clinic support staff. It is an effective and cost-saving approach put in place to enhance the care patients already receive.

For a complete list of the primary care providers at Lakewood, visit the “Our Providers” section of our website. To schedule an appointment or to establish care with one of our providers, contact us at 218-894-1515.