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The Importance of a Primary Care Physician and How to Find One

If you don’t have a primary care physician, it’s time to get one. Hear from Dr. Sophia Chang, Chief Clinical Informatics Officer at Clover Health, on why it’s so important.

As a primary care physician, and someone who also trains young physicians in primary care, I believe very deeply in the importance of a meaningful doctor-patient relationship—particularly for seniors and those living with chronic conditions.

The relationship between a primary doctor and patient is so much more than just seeing the same person every year for your annual physical exam—it’s a partnership in managing your health. Primary care gives us as doctors the opportunity to know you, understand what’s important to you, and provide the best possible care for your specific needs and situation.

Having a primary doctor has been especially important during the pandemic, when in-person visits have been more difficult. Having a doctor who knows you and understands your needs makes telehealth (video and phone) visits easier and more convenient—they can help you stay on top of managing your chronic conditions and prescriptions.

Here are just a few of the many reasons having a primary care doctor is so important.

Why You Should Have a Primary Doctor

  1. They’ll know you and what’s important to you. Having someone who knows you, your medical history, your preferences, and how you care for yourself is incredibly important. Your primary doctor sees you as the whole person you are—not just your medical conditions, or the one issue you’re facing in that moment. They understand the role you play in your family, your history, your stressors, and your what brings you joy. Sharing your story and understanding both your physical and mental health, you and your doctor can work together to decide on the best care plan for you. Your primary doctor can help personalize that plan because they know you.
  2. They can help manage chronic conditions long-term. Your primary doctor can treat and help you prevent a wide range of conditions. When needed, they also help coordinate the recommendations and care you receive from specialists. They’re a key member of your health team who knows the chronic conditions you manage every day and understands the best way to help you manage the multiple issues that affect your health. If chronic conditions worsen or you experience an injury, having a doctor who knows the history of your condition is really important and helpful.
  3. You’ll feel comfortable with them. Choosing a primary doctor and seeing them regularly will help build up a relationship over time. You’ll feel more comfortable each visit and will know you’re seeing the same doctor every time. That element of comfort and trust will allow you to freely ask questions and have open and honest conversations about your health and lifestyle. Your primary doctor can also make trusted recommendations for other doctors and specialists as needed. Ultimately, you will receive a higher quality of care and will have a higher level of satisfaction.

At Clover, we work hard to reinforce a good, strong clinical relationship between a primary care provider and our members because we know the positive impact it has on health outcomes. To help strengthen that relationship further, we provide our doctors with a wonderful software tool called the Clover Assistant.

What is the Clover Assistant?

The Clover Assistant is a technology tool that organizes all of our members’ health information in one place, giving our doctors a full-picture look at their health and healthcare. Clover Assistant also makes personalized recommendations during each visit based on current treatment, medications, and clinical guidelines.

Doctors take in so much information—keeping up with the latest scientific recommendations and navigating through electronic health record systems—that they have less time to care for each patient. Clover Assistant makes it easier by organizing all of this information so your doctor can focus more on you.

What Are the Benefits of the Clover Assistant?

In the Clover Assistant, your doctor can easily see exactly what they need to know about you. With the right information available right at their fingertips, the focus can be on creating your personalized care plan.

Another thing doctors spend a lot of time on: figuring out health benefits to keep your costs low—and help prevent you from getting a big bill, especially at the pharmacy. The Clover Assistant shows doctors which drugs are covered and how much they’ll cost, so they can prescribe the drugs that are most affordable for you.

The Clover Assistant also makes it easy to have a virtual (video) visit with your doctor. You can have your doctor’s appointment from the convenience and safety of your home.

How to Find a Primary Care Doctor

In Clover Health’s provider directory, you can find a primary doctor who is conveniently located in your neighborhood. You can also see if they’re using the Clover Assistant. We believe that having a primary doctor is so important that we make sure cost isn’t an issue for our members. Clover has a broad, open network, so it’s easy to find a doctor nearby that’s right for you with a low or $0 copay—whether they’re in or out of network.

In addition, we’re constantly working to improve the Clover Assistant to make it even easier for the primary doctor to do a great job, which is why we recommend that primary care doctors use the Clover Assistant.

If you don’t yet have a primary doctor and are a Clover Health member, use our provider directory to find a primary doctor who uses the Clover Assistant today. If you already have a primary doctor you love and they’re not using the Clover Assistant, you may want to recommend it to them to improve your care even further.

If you want to learn more about Clover Health, our Medicare Advantage plans, and our broad network of primary care doctors, give us a call today at 1-800-836-6890 (TTY 711) 8 am–8 pm local time, 7 days a week* to speak with a member of our team. We’re happy to help answer any of your questions.

Written by Dr. Sophia Chang. Dr. Chang is the Chief Clinical Informatics Officer at Clover Health, a tech company that manages care for its members as a Medicare Advantage plan. She brings clinical perspectives into Clover's technology platform to improve care delivery and patient outcomes. Dr. Chang continues to practice general internal medicine at San Francisco General Hospital as a UCSF faculty member.

 

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