Why You Need a Primary Care Physician Seek Continuity of Care
By Jennifer Smith / January 1, 2014
As the Affordable Care Act rolls out in January, 2014, the public will be encouraged to change some of its health care habits. While many people have come to rely on hospital emergency departments and urgent care centers for their main source of care, Dr. David Fink, a Broward Health primary care physician in Coral Springs, cites a number of reasons why individuals are now being urged to set down roots with a local family doctor
The most important reason people should establish a relationship with a primary care physician is continuity of care Dr. Fink says that he is able to oversee his patients' health care in a continuous and comprehensive fashion, while assisting with prevention and detection of chronic diseases "I look at the whole picture and can determine if specialists have conflicting issues," he says. ....
"Everything comes back to the primary doctor."
By having a primary care physician, you can also save money. "Going to urgent care, and especially the emergency room, is costly," Dr. Fink says. "There is a higher co-pay at the hospital than there would be to visit your family physician.
If we can keep people out of the emergency room, it's immensely powerful.
"That's not to say there isn't a time and place for urgent care. But Dr. Fink believes it makes more sense to identify a primary care physician who will know your medical history, have access to your medical records, and be able to save you a few dollars, even if you only visit the doctor once a year for an annual exam or a case of the sniffles.
While looking for a new primary care physician, Dr. Fink says that patients should be seeking doctors who are good communicators. "Being able to communicate and listen -- especially listening -- is critical," he says. "Your doctor should be friendly and able to explain health situations in layman's terms."
Fink cautions that friendliness and open communication should not be limited to your physician. When searching for a new doctor, also take into consideration the office staff. Do they greet you upon your arrival? Do they return phone calls promptly? Do they understand your condition and circumstances? If the answer is no, you might want to consider working with another physician.
Dr. Fink says that, through the new consumer-oriented Affordable Care Act, the patient is the center of a circle whose outgoing spokes include a primary care physician, specialists, office staff, and others involved with patient care. As the center of that circle, expect great communication and guidance from those involved with your care.
While this advice is helpful, it can still be difficult to identify a doctor who meets such standards. Dr. Fink recommends finding good physicians through referrals. Family and friends usually offer great advice, and you can use resources such as the Broward Health Line, which refers patients to doctors who fit their health care needs, geographic location, and other criteria.
"Patients sometimes need that hand-holding," says Dr. Fink. "Once insured, your first step should be finding a primary care physician. Then, you won't feel so overwhelmed about navigating the health care system. Leave that to your primary care doctor and office staff."
To learn if you are eligible for health insurance through an Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange, visit HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.
Jennifer Smith is a corporate communications specialist with Broward Health.
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