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Top reasons to make an appointment with a primary care physician today

6/8/2011, 9:53 a.m.

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According to Dr. Julien Dedier, regular primary care can greatly benefit people’s overall health and well-being.

Studies show that people who receive regular primary care are healthier compared to those who don’t. But according to Julien Dedier, M.D., M.P.H., primary care practitioner at Boston Medical Center, it is still a struggle to convince men, especially younger men, that annual primary care visits are important.

“There seems to be a general perception that men don’t engage in primary care as much as women do. I think younger men may feel like their health is less of a priority or that the kinds of health issues that are addressed in primary care are of lower importance,” says Dedier.

Dedier, who has been with BMC since 2000, believes in building long-term relationships with his patients through respect, understanding and an open ear. He offers some compelling reasons why building such a relationship with a primary care doctor can be a lifesaver in the long run.

1. Your checkup can save you time and money down the road  

Primary care physicians provide vaccines, counseling and routine screenings to help prevent health issues before they become problems later on, which can literally add years to your life.  

“It is important to learn about how you might be able to prevent diseases on the basis of your demographic, lifestyle and family history through regular visits with a primary care doctor,” recommends Dedier. “Now that we are all required to purchase health insurance, it is also a huge cost savings in the long run to prevent disease.”

Dedier recommends that healthy young men schedule an annual checkup with their primary care physician. During a checkup, patients are counseled based on age and risk factors and may receive testing and vaccines such as Hepatitis B, tetanus and measles, mumps and rubella. During routine primary care, patients also learn about risks for accidents, injury, mental illnesses and STDs.

As one grows older, the risk of developing diseases increases and visits to your primary care doctor become even more crucial. Screenings for diabetes, eye disease and heart disease can begin as early as 35 depending on an individual’s risk profile. Cancer screening for prostate and colon also typically begin around ages 40-50.

2. In an emergency, it’s nice to have an advocate by your side

When a trip to the emergency room arises, a primary care physician might be far from your mind, but he or she can be a crucial support. An established relationship with your primary care doctor helps to build your medical profile, and a well-documented medical history can be a lifesaver in times of crisis.

“Primary care doctors are extremely helpful when emergencies arise. It is invaluable to have someone who knows your health profile and preferences to help you navigate the greater health care system,” says Dedier. “Having an established relationship with your primary care doctor can help your emergency caregivers identify underlying health issues, prevent unnecessary testing and procedures and help improve your health outcome.”

3.  Primary care is your portal to other beneficial resources

If health screenings and vaccines don’t seem to fit with your list of priorities, you may be surprised to find out that your doctor is a resource for other services that you may need right now.

“Here at the BMC we have a range of resources available. We are able to quickly refer patients to a full spectrum of medical specialties that can help address specific medical concerns as well as give patients quick, convenient access to services that address mental health or addiction issues,” explains Dedier. “We need to get the message out to younger men that there is much more to primary care than just cholesterol testing and advice about seatbelts.”

BMC’s primary care services are now located in the new Shapiro Ambulatory Care Center on the BMC campus in Boston’s South End neighborhood. The Shapiro Center allows patients access to state-of-the-art care in an environment designed to maximize comfort and privacy. The new setting offers patients more coordinated and efficient care with on-site laboratory and radiology services as well as access to many of BMC’s subspecialties.

Boston Medical Center’s primary care doctors are now accepting new patients. To make an appointment with a BMC physician today, call 800-841-4325. Find out more at www.bmc.org/primarycare.