The short answer is YES seeing the same doctor is very important! First seeing your doctor is less frustrating than constantly having to reorient a new provider to your health history. Second, having a long-term relationship with your doctor actually improves health outcomes.
How often do you call your doctor’s clinic only to be told that he or she isn’t available, and your appointment will be with whoever has availability in the schedule? If your experience is like most, it’s the majority of the time. It’s frustrating and sure, you’d like to see the same person, but does it really matter? It absolutely does.
There has been a fair amount of research on the subject, and a sustained continuous relationship with a primary care physician improves outcomes for chronic diseases, increases the delivery of preventive services, and reduces the usage of urgent care and emergency department visits. That should be common sense, but nice to have data to back it up. In my experience, it also increases patients’ satisfaction with their care because it reduces the crazy-makers.
Case in point: I talked with a guy not too long ago who relayed the story of having cold symptoms for a week. He called to get in with his doctor, who wasn’t available for some time, and instead was scheduled with a physician assistant who had an opening. He was diagnosed with a virus, given some home-care instructions, and told to come back (for another charged visit) if he wasn’t better in a week.
He wasn’t better in a week, so he called for another appointment and was given one not with his doctor and not with the physician assistant who saw him previously, but another physician assistant, who disagreed with the advice from the previous visit, recommended a different course of action with follow-up in another week if not better. He wasn’t better in another week and finally got a 3rd appointment with his doctor, who diagnosed sinusitis and gave him the treatment for it. The guy was enormously frustrated about something he felt (and I agree) that could have been taken care of the first time if he had seen his doctor. But instead, he extended his illness by three weeks, wasted three days on appointment visits, and paid for three visits.
At Mission Direct Primary Care, we’re committed to the importance of the relationship between you and your doctor. That means getting you in same-day or next-day with your doctor almost every time and your doctor will always return your calls on the same day. That keeps you healthier, safer, and happier.