What Does Primary Care Physician Mean?

Reviewed on 4/7/2021

A primary care physician is a medical practitioner who practices general medicine. They are trained to provide definitive care to undifferentiated or uncategorized patients at the point of the first contact.
A primary care physician is a medical practitioner who practices general medicine. They are trained to provide definitive care to undifferentiated or uncategorized patients at the point of the first contact.

A primary care physician is a medical practitioner who practices general medicine. They are trained to provide definitive care to undifferentiated or uncategorized patients at the point of the first contact. These doctors take continuing responsibility for providing patients with comprehensive care. Primary care physicians (sometimes called family doctors, internists, or general practitioners) are doctors who have been trained to be patients’ first point of entry into the healthcare system. They’re also experts in helping track patient’s health over time or in coordinating care when patients are seeing several specialists. Common roles of a primary care physician are to

  • Diagnose and treat acute and severe illnesses.
  • Provide annual checkups and routine health screenings.
  • Counsel on lifestyle changes to prevent diseases.
  • Coordinate care with other physicians and specialists as needed.
  • Provide age-appropriate immunizations.

Primary care physicians have board certifications and completed residencies and fellowships in primary care. Some of the medical areas that they are trained in include:

A primary care physician will help patients navigate their healthcare system when they need assistance selecting the proper specialist, coordinating their care with other providers, and ensuring they understand their treatment options. Having a primary care physician means patients will have someone they can turn to for healthcare advice whether it is preventive care, treating common illnesses and injuries, or recommending a specialist when they need one. Different types of primary care physicians are as follows:

  • Internal medicine doctor (MD): Also known as a general internist, this type of doctor typically only treats adults.
  • Osteopathic medicine doctor (DO): An osteopathic doctor is very similar to an internist, except with a more holistic approach, incorporating some chiropractic skills. In the United States, this degree requires the same amount of schooling but a different certification test.
  • Family medicine doctor: Also called a family physician, this doctor sees patients who are infants, adolescents, adults, and the elderly.
  • Pediatrician: Patients younger than 21 years can see a pediatrician who specializes in caring for young individuals, including newborns and infants.
  • Geriatrician: This type of doctor provides specialized care for the elderly (people older than 65 years). Older people may face different health issues or have different health concerns such as medication management or dementia. A doctor specializing in geriatric medicine can be helpful.

What are the common benefits of telemedicine?

Telemedicine or telehealth is healthcare provision with the use of digital information and communication technologies, such as computers and mobile devices, to gain access to healthcare services remotely. The common benefits of telemedicine may include:

  • Increases access to care:
    • Telemedicine helps overcome these geographical barriers, which is especially beneficial for those who live in rural areas with a shortage of providers.
  • No need to take time off:
    • Online visits eliminate the need to request time off. Patients can simply schedule their visits before or after work or even during their break. This will save those days off for when they really need them.
  • No transportation costs:
    • When patients see their doctor during an online visit, they are saving money on gas, parking, or public transportation. They also eliminate concerns about being late or missing their appointment and being charged as a no-show. Additionally, there is no pressure of having to rush to get back to work in a certain amount of time.
  • Reduces childcare stresses:
    • If patients don’t have to worry about taking time off of work or getting stuck in traffic, chances are they still have to stress about childcare. Finding care for their kids so they can go to an appointment can be costly and time-consuming. Fortunately, telemedicine solves this problem by allowing such patients to see their doctor all while taking care of their family's responsibilities.
  • Eliminates the possibility of getting a new illness:
    • Doctors’ offices are full of germs and sick people. Overcrowded waiting rooms are breeding grounds for a plethora of sicknesses. By being seen from home, patients get the care they need while avoiding the risk of exposure.
  • Less waiting time:
    • By choosing to utilize telemedicine technology, patients are eliminating a lot of time being wasted in a waiting room. Even if they decide not to use telehealth for themselves, if they choose a practice that offers it, their wait time will decrease because other patients opt to be seen from home.
  • Better health:
    • When patients can see their doctors at their convenience, they are more likely to seek care and take better care of themselves. Patients can easily access doctors to address healthcare concerns quickly and learn about treatment options in a matter of minutes.

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References
erences: Choosing a Doctor: https://www.emedicinehealth.com/selecting_a_doctor/article_em.htm#the_final_choice

How Does Telemedicine Work? https://www.webmd.com/lung/how-does-telemedicine-work#1

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