Take charge of your health by finding the right primary care provider

On your journey to good health, do you have a guide? Do you have the right guide?

As you travel through your daily life, a primary care provider is your expert companion. 

A primary care provider gets to know you and your health history and goals, helping you to make healthy progress year to year. A primary care provider evaluates your health regularly through checkups, screenings and examinations. He or she is usually the first to notice a developing health issue. Like a trusted auto mechanic, your primary care provider plays a critical part in making sure you run smoothly.

When you have an established relationship with a primary care provider, you save time later. If you develop a sinus infection, or seek peace of mind about an illness that runs in your family, your primary care physician can respond quickly with a broad understanding of your professional and personal life. A provider’s history with you is a valuable advantage when testing or making a diagnosis.

Most important, your primary care provider is your partner in prevention, helping you head off problems before they become serious. Your provider can help you handle stress, dependency or depression before they consume unhealthy amounts of time and energy. You and your provider will be partners in setting routine appointments and checkups, intended to find and manage potential problems before they become urgent. Ultimately, preventive care is easier, less expensive and less time-consuming than treatment after a disease has struck.  

Better still, a primary care physician operates with a network of trusted medical relationships and is able to refer you to a specialist if necessary or assign treatments such as rehabilitation therapy. And she can help you sort through the advice you get from specialists and others, guiding you to do the most important things first. Your primary care physician, in other words, sees “the big picture” in a way no specialist can.

Studies have shown that such a provider helps keep you healthier as you age. They have found states with the highest ratios of primary care providers – family and general practitioners, pediatricians and general internists – had the best health outcomes, including lowest death rates. It’s a relationship that pays off in the long run.

Finding the right provider for you

Your primary care physician must be someone you trust, with whom you feel a rapport. An ideal relationship with a primary care provider should be comfortable, with both patient and provider valuing one another’s thoughts and opinions.

If you’re looking for a primary care physician, you can start by visiting our online directory or call customer service at 503-574-7500 or 800-878-4445 (TTY: 711) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You may also consult this health library article on choosing and working closely with your provider.