The Importance of Having a Primary Care Provider

The Importance of Having a Primary Care Provider

November 2015


When choosing a new provider, follow these four steps:

1. Identify providers in your network. Call your health insurance company, review its website or check your member handbook to find in-network providers.

2. Ask around. Ask your friends, family or co-workers if they have providers they like.

3. Pick a provider. Call the provider's office and ask questions to help you decide. Good questions include:

  • Is the provider accepting new patients?
  • Is the office close to your home or your work?
  • Will the appointment times work with your schedule?
  • Does the provider speak your language or have an interpreter available?
  • Which hospital(s) does the provider work with and can you get there?
  • Is the office staff respectful and helpful?

4. Give your new provider a try. Sometimes it takes more than one visit to figure out if a provider is the right one for you.

Adapted from "A Roadmap to Better Care and a Health You," Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Your primary care provider is trained to be a generalist with a broad background in medicine. That means you should be able to go to him or her with any health concern and either get help with your problem or learn where you can go to get the help you need.

"My first job is to keep my patients healthy. I really try to get to know my patients and their medical histories so I can create personalized plans of care for all my patients," said Dr. Sona Bhatti, who practices internal medicine at the UW Neighborhood Ballard Clinic (hyperlink - "It is always better to prevent a disease than to have to treat it. Or, if you develop a disease, to treat it early rather than later."

Keeping you on a healthy track

One of the major roles of a primary care provider is making sure you get the right preventive care, such as immunizations and screening tests. Staying healthy is not easy so that's why you need to have a provider that gets to know you and offers continuity of care no matter how small or big. It could be receiving care from your primary care provider for that nagging cough that won't go away to the care they provide your daughter who sprained her ankle from a sports injury. They are your medical home and coach patients on ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle every day.

Your health starts with you

Bhatti feels it's important to have an open and honest rapport with each patient. "I take into consideration my patients' individual goals, values and beliefs," she said. "We work together to devise a plan that realistically fits into their lifestyle as the ultimate goal is to make it successful for them."

Surveys show that patients who feel they've been included in this decision making are more satisfied with their care; more likely to adhere to their treatment; and more likely to take better care of themselves.

Get access to specialty care

It's important to have a healthcare provider that you trust and who has the ability to offer a range of services from primary care to specialty care. Find out what comprehensive services are offered so you can make the best decision possible.

To find a UW Medicine physician that is a perfect fit for you and your family, call: 855.520.5151 or visit

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