Dr T Murray Baker
Dr. T. Murray Baker talks with a patient and her sister during an annual physical.

The importance of having a primary care provider

March 30 is Doctors’ Day, a day to celebrate all the doctors who care for us, our families and our communities every day. And there are a lot of reasons to love your doctor. Over the last few years, they have guided us through every stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, working day and night to help us make sense of the latest information and keep us safe and healthy. But that’s just one reason. Why is having a close relationship with your primary care provider (PCP) so important? As Shakespeare wrote, “Let me count the ways.”

Reason #1: Your PCP knows you and your family history.

While you can find treatment for a minor illness like the flu from any health care provider, your primary care provider will get to know you on a deeper level so that they can give you comprehensive care that’s aligned with your overall health needs and goals.

“Knowing the intricacies of your health, your goals and your family history is a crucial part of providing excellent care,” said T. Murray Baker, MD, a family medicine physician at Penn Highlands Family Medicine in St. Marys. “When we, as PCPs, have time to develop a close relationship with our patients, we can provide individualized care that’s tailored to their unique health needs.”

Reason #2: Your PCP can help you prevent disease and stay healthy.

Mammograms, prostate exams, colonoscopies, bone density tests — there are a lot of health screenings, tests and immunizations to keep track of as you age. Fortunately, you don’t have to manage it by yourself. Your primary care provider will help you stay on top of all recommended screenings.

“Staying up-to-date on health screenings is so important,” said Dr Baker. “When we detect potential issues early on, we can more effectively treat them and even prevent them from developing in the first place.”

Reason # 3: A PCP can save you money on health care costs.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the more time you spend with your primary care provider, the more time and money you’ll save on healthcare costs over your lifetime. Why? Your PCP will help you detect health issues early when they are easier and less expensive to treat. And, your primary care provider can often treat issues without referring you to a specialist. In fact, Americans who have a primary care provider spend 33% less on health care than Americans who only see specialists.

“There are so many reasons why having a primary care provider is the smartest thing you can do for your health and wellness,” said Dr. Baker. “If you don’t have a PCP, don’t wait any longer. Schedule an appointment today!”

Penn Highlands Healthcare offers comprehensive primary care at Penn Highlands Family Medicine locations throughout the region. Primary care providers are accepting new patients so that you can begin the journey of developing a relationship focused on you and your health. For more information or to find a primary care provider near you, visit www.phhealthcare.org/findadoc or call 814-375-6644.