What is primary care?
Everyone should have a primary care, “go-to” physician. Primary care doctors help you stay as healthy as possible, and diagnose and treat common illnesses and injuries. Your primary care physician (PCP) serves as the leader of your medical team, coordinating and communicating with everyone involved with your care so treatment and medications don’t interfere with one another. This is especially important if you have more than one medical issue or chronic condition. Services include:
- General primary care
- Disease prevention and wellness
- Episodic care for acute symptoms
- Management of chronic disease
- Immunization and vaccines
The responsibilities of primary care doctors are divided into three areas:
- Preventive care to help you stay healthy. This includes making sure you get the screening tests and immunizations you need at the right time and advising you on how to live a healthy lifestyle.
- Diagnosing and treating acute illnesses and injuries. If you experience a medical emergency, you should always go immediately to the nearest emergency room - otherwise, your primary care doctor is your first stop if you get ill or suffer a minor injury.
- Coordinating your medical care. Your primary care doctor provides advice on tests and screenings that you may need. If you have one or more chronic conditions, your PCP ensures that you see the right specialists at the right times, that your treatments and medications don’t interfere with one another, and that good communication is maintained with all specialists involved in your care.
Types of Primary Care Doctors
We make it easy for you to choose the type of primary care doctor that best fits your needs. Our primary care physicians serve patients in internal medicine and family medicine, with some offering concierge services. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Internal Medicine: Focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and care of diseases in adolescents, adults, and the elderly.
- Family Medicine: Centered on continuing care for the individual and the family
- Concierge Service: Also called preventative care, physicians take on only a certain number of patients for an annual fee, allowing for closer relationships and other benefits.
When do you need a primary care doctor?
Your primary care doctor can diagnose and treat non-emergency medical problems such as:
- Colds vs. Flu: He/she can determine whether your sore throat, congestion or cough are caused by a virus, a bacteria, or allergies. They can also prescribe medications to treat these conditions.
- Infections: Ear infections, eye infections, skin infections, and small, uncomplicated wounds can be treated by your primary care doctor.
- Stomach problems: If you suffer digestive symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea or heartburn, your PCP can identify whether the problem is caused by food poisoning, stomach flu or if this is a sign of a more complicated problem that requires medication or a visit to a specialist.
- Minor sports injuries: If you are injured while training for or playing sports, your primary care physician can assess your condition and determine whether you need medication, an x-ray or to see an orthopedic specialist.
- Chronic disease management: Many common chronic conditions, including hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes can be managed by your primary care doctor.
- Care Coordination: If you need to see a medical specialist, your primary care doctor coordinates and manages your care appropriately and carefully.
An important advantage of having a primary care doctor is that you will always know that your care is being directed by a doctor who knows and understands all of your medical needs.
Your Patient-Centered Medical Home
Stamford Health Medical Group is pleased to announce that we've received notification from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) informing us that we have achieved Level Three Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) designation for our Greenwich, New Canaan, Wilton and Stamford (Tully Center) primary care practice locations. That means it will be easy and comfortable for you to get the care you need, the way you want it. PCMH is a healthcare delivery model in which your primary care physician and a core team of caregivers manage your individual needs. Think of it as a support network, extended.