Primary care

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For your best health: primary care

A key to your health is having a good primary care doctor (or provider) whom you can trust. Your primary care doctor guides you through the health system and is often your first contact when you have a concern. You can work with your primary care provider on short-term and long-term health issues.

Primary care doctors are specially trained as internists or general practitioners. Your primary care provider may be a nurse practitioner who has special training in primary care. Physician assistants (PA-C) assist doctors and are licensed to practice medicine. Primary care doctors for children are called pediatricians.

Your primary care physician and you

Most physicians who choose primary care do so because they enjoy the concept of personal care. They also enjoy the range of conditions they see each day-from something as simple as an itchy scalp to potentially life-threatening conditions such as heart disease. Be honest with your primary care doctor about your diet, alcohol intake or other habits, because he or she is your partner in staying as healthy as possible.

What is primary care?

Primary care physicians specialize in internal medicine (primarily adults) or family practice (adults and children). Legacy Medical Group has primary care clinics throughout the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area, with skilled and compassionate doctors in both specialties. All of Legacy's primary care clinics are are certified patient-centered medical homes.

What is a medical home?

A medical home is a primary care practice focused on the health of the whole person in all stages of life, for both acute and chronic care as well as preventive care. Unlike the traditional approach, where various specialists may treat a patient in isolation, in the medical home model a single personal physician leads a team that collectively takes responsibility for the patient’s ongoing care. The medical home coordinates across the health care spectrum (subspecialty care, hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, etc.) and the patient’s community (family, public and private services). The hallmarks of a medical home are quality, safety and comprehensive, proactive care.

How do patients benefit from a medical home?

For patients and their families, a medical home offers individually tailored services in a compassionate and robust partnership with physicians and other providers. While the young and healthy might receive simple reminders about preventive care, those with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension, would receive care focused on that disease. People with complex medical issues might also be supported with extra assistance from a health coach, nurse casemanager or outside agency. This approach boosts both patient satisfaction and confidence.

Making the most of your primary care visit

Most primary care doctors have a full slate of appointments, seeing 18 to 24 patients a day. They also need time to make referrals, coordinate with other doctors and complete paperwork. However, this workload doesn't mean your doctor shouldn't take time to listen to you, explain things fully, or answer your questions.

  • When making an appointment, tell the scheduler all the issues you'd like to discuss. Then ask how long the appointment will be. The scheduler sets the appointment time based on an estimate of how long you'll need. 
  • Arrive about 10 minutes early unless you're seeing a new doctor. First-time patients should arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Know your family history. If you have a specific medical concern, do a little research before the visit. Write down your questions and any other topics you want to discuss with the doctor. 
  • Tell the doctor at the outset if you have more than one matter to discuss. You can then cover the most important items on your list during the time allowed. The doctor might suggest making another appointment to fully cover every issue.
  • Take notes and make sure you fully understand your doctor's instructions.

Team up with your primary care doctor

  • Go to your primary care doctor first. Unless the problem is an emergency, contact your primary care doctor first. If they can't take care of the problem, they'll refer you to someone who can.
  • Have regular physicals. A physical examination is a great chance for your doctor to conduct screening tests, discuss any medical issues and counsel you on preventative measures. If possible, have a physical every five years until you're 39, then every three years from age 40 to 49, and every year for age 50 and older. Check with your insurance company to find out what frequency your coverage will allow.
  • Know your medications. For any visit, bring a list of your current medications, both prescription and over the counter, including any herbal medications or natural supplements. Your doctor needs to be aware of all your medications and drug interactions. These medication forms can help you keep track.
  • Be responsive. Be open and explain your symptoms completely. Be willing to agree on a plan, then follow the plan.
  • Please call ahead if you can't keep a scheduled appointment. That way your clinic can help other patients who might be waiting. We appreciate your courtesy.



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