About 60% of Americans live with a chronic disease. These conditions, which include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and many others, typically can’t be cured, but they can be effectively managed. And successful management can often go a long way toward preventing other serious health problems.
Primary care providers (PCPs) are your go-to source for all your health-related needs and play an essential role in chronic disease management. At Emory Healthcare, our PCPs work within a care team model that includes doctors and advanced practice providers, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners, working together to provide patient- and family-centered care. Combined with special interest and expertise in specific chronic conditions, our PCPs also offer education, monitoring, and support that can make living with chronic health challenges easier.
Relationships: The Cornerstone of Chronic Disease Management
PCPs usually see patients over the long term. This allows them to develop a strong professional relationship with their patients – something that’s especially beneficial for chronic disease management.
“I chose primary care because of the relationships I get to make with my patients and their families,” Deanna Joe, MD, a primary care physician with Emory Clinic at Saint Joseph’s says. “I have the opportunity to know them as people, understand their medical history and help with their medical care.”
With a deeper understanding and relationship comes a strong bond and the development of trust. And that trust can make it easier for patients to follow their PCP’s advice, particularly when it comes to making the lifestyle changes vital to chronic disease management.
“Helping patients make positive life changes is where I find the most joy. I believe patients will make positive life changes if they have a doctor who cares,” says Alicia Grady, MD, an internist at Emory Clinic at Lithonia – Primary Care. “I want my patients to know that I care. I’m interested in what’s going on in their lives because it impacts their health.”
For example, a PCP who knows you’re dealing with a lot of stress may have greater insight into why your blood pressure is high. This insight may lead the provider to suggest stress-reduction tips, in addition to other therapies, to improve your blood pressure readings.
Likewise, a PCP who learns you’re working longer hours and eating more fast food than usual will recognize that’s contributing to your weight and cholesterol concerns. They may be able to offer suggestions for eating healthier even if you don’t have a lot of time for food preparation.
Doctors Who Hear You
These relationships depend on PCPs carefully listening to their patients, which is vital to providing good patient care.
“I believe listening is one of the most important parts of my job,” Johana Polanco, MD, a family medicine physician with Emory at Stone Mountain – Primary Care, says. “My patients can count on me to pay careful attention to what they say, to identify their needs, and offer the support and guidance needed to improve their health. Success comes when we set one small goal at a time, and after meeting that goal, we work to develop another.”
“Listening to you, taking the time to understand you, and respecting your individuality is how I provide the best possible care,” adds Alyssa Style, DO, a family medicine physician with Emory at Downtown Decatur – Primary Care. “And helping you maintain your well-being and head off serious health issues is what brings me the most joy.”
Teaming Up for Better Health
Preventing more serious health problems and helping patients have the best quality of life is what chronic disease management is all about. But if a more challenging health problem arises, your PCP will be there to help as well.
“I use evidence-based medicine in combination with your goals and wishes to help guide treatment,” says Dr. Style.
When necessary, your PCP will refer you to other expert providers and coordinate your care. At Emory Healthcare, you have access to Georgia’s most comprehensive academic health system, with physicians serving in more than 70 specialties. And, of course, your PCP is always available for your general health and wellness needs. Their care includes annual checkups, immunizations and other preventive care, and the treatment of minor injuries.
Chronic disease management can be challenging, and for many people it will require an entirely different approach to daily living. But your path is bound to be smoother when you have a caring Emory PCP guiding you forward.
“I enjoy helping my patients take care of themselves as they start a new way of life,” says Dr. Grady.
Find a Provider
Emory Healthcare offers a wide range of primary care services. With the variety of backgrounds, interests and experiences our providers have, you’re sure to find one who’s a good match for you.