Primary health care is the broad range of health services you receive when you have a health problem. These services are available at the first point of contact with the healthcare system. Often, a general practitioner attends to your needs at a primary health care center. These centers also have allied health providers such as dentists, pharmacists, and nurses. Some of the services given at a this kind of care center include diagnosis, treatment, and management of long-term conditions, including chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer. You can maintain good health, go for regular checks, receive support for ongoing care, and get advice about your health concerns by visiting a primary care center. Given the vital role a primary health care center plays in your health and that of your loved ones, you should take great care when selecting yours. This article explores a few factors that should guide you when choosing a primary health care center.
The type of primary care provider in the center you choose should suit your healthcare needs. For example, if you have children, the primary health care center should have a pediatrician who is board-certified or eligible. Such a professional is essential when you have an infant, adolescent, child, or newborn. These specialized professionals help cater to your family (family practitioners), elderly adults (geriatricians), and other members of your family. It would help if you also enquired about the availability of telemedicine, online patient hubs, and other methods that allow you to consult the physician in case of an emergency.
The type of equipment available in a primary health care center matters a lot. A primary health care center should have the essential equipment to monitor and treat various conditions. However, some unique cases require specialized equipment that is rare in some centers. For example, your health concerns may require continuous laboratory diagnostics to monitor and manage your condition. Therefore, ensure that you select a care center with equipment that suits your healthcare needs. In addition, ensure that the hospital can cater for emergencies that may arise while at the hospital. The staff should have all the necessary equipment to stabilize your condition, monitor your health, and transport you safely to other healthcare facilities.
Some insurance covers restrict the providers you can select. Alternatively, the insurance provider may give you various financial incentives when choosing a primary health care center in their preferred list. In addition, some doctors may not accept payment in the form of insurance reimbursement. If your insurer feels that the doctor is overcharging for primary health care, they can direct you to facilities that have reasonable charges. Therefore, your insurance company majorly dictates your choice of a primary health care center.
How far is the primary health care center from your home? Can you use public transport? How expensive is the trip to your primary health care center? Health care centers are plentiful in some places but rare in others. If your area has fewer primary care centers than 'safety net facilities,' you may choose community health clinics, hospital emergency rooms, or public clinics. Moreover, the lack of public transport may hinder access to health care centers. Therefore, you should consider a primary health care center that is the most convenient option for you.
You should consider the staffing, equipment, insurance cover, and convenience when selecting a primary health care center.