Column: Why have a primary care doctor?


Commentary by Lisa Youngblood, MD, IU Health Physicians Northside Adult & Pediatrics


You may need to see a doctor if you’re ill or injured, but what if you’re not? Some people who are in apparent good health don’t feel they need to see a primary care physician. The fact is that developing a relationship with a primary care doctor now is an important step in your long-term efforts to stay healthy.

A primary care doctor is the first point of contact for most health-related concerns. In addition to diagnosing and treating acute medical conditions, your doctor recommends a schedule for preventive screenings and provides education about health and wellness. That’s why it’s important to see a primary care doctor regularly even if you don’t have any current health issues. A primary care doctor can partner with you to oversee your health and help prevent problems before they occur. Early detection of high blood pressure or high blood glucose, for example, helps ensure better treatment outcomes and prevents unnecessary hospitalizations and/or trips to the emergency room.

So, what does it mean to establish with a primary care doctor? Generally, it means making an appointment to be seen for a checkup. Ultimately, this can mean fewer visits to urgent care facilities or the ER. Your doctor knows your personal medical history and provides continuity of care from visit to visit. If you do have a medical concern, your primary care doctor can treat you, advise on when and where to be seen in the future, or what to do after hours. If you’re admitted to the hospital, your doctor can provide follow-up care after you’re released, including any tests or labs you may need rechecked.

Your primary care physician is someone you can trust. Once you’ve established care with a primary care doctor, remember to see him or her regularly for medical problems or at least once a year to update your chart and history. Take advantage of an annual well exam if covered by your health insurance. You will get to know each other and can work collaboratively on preventive measures for a lifetime of good health.

Lisa Youngblood, MD, specializes in family medicine. She is a guest columnist located at IU Health Physicians Northside Adult & Pediatrics, 11725 Illinois St., Suite 250, in Carmel.  She can be reached by calling the office at 688-5300.