Providing coordinated, continuous and integrated health care services

Primary care serves as you your main point of contact for healthcare in non-emergency situations. Think of this type of healthcare as the hub of your entire health care regiment, the central point where your overall care is coordinated and integrated by a primary care physician with other care providers and specialty physicians.

At Emory Healthcare, our primary care physicians are board-certified and dedicated to providing patient- and family-centered care. Many of our primary care physicians focus on specific types of primary care, including family medicine, general internal medicine, geriatrics and gynecology and obstetrics.

When you choose an one of our primary care physician, you get physicians who with and in Georgia’s largest academic health care syste. They can coordinate your care with other Emory physicians serving in more than 70 specialties and have access to more than 1,000 clincal trials.

Why Primary Care is Key to Long-term Health

Some of the key benefits of primary care and of having a primary care physician:

  • Provides preventive care and guidance on how to achieve a healthy lifestyle
  • Diagnoses and treats acute common medical conditions, such as cold, flu, infections, etc.
  • Determines the severity of your medical problems, so he or she can direct you to the most appropriate care provider
  • Refers you to medical specialists when a condition requires more targeted treatment
  • Treats and manages chronic diseases such a high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes and coordinates with your specialist on this care.

In primary care, a primary care physician makes sure prescribed medications are compatible with each other or with supplements you may already be taking. Over time, your primary care physician learns your health history and what is most important to you and your long-term wellness. This high-level oversight ensures all of the treatments, medications, therapies and recommendations from various providers are as effective as possible.

Even if you are relatively healthy right now, things can and do change. This is especially true of millennials who are in the perfect position to establish health and wellness baselines with a dedicated primary care provider.

Types of Primary Care

Primary care providers are usually physicians; however, physician assistants and nurse practitioners (collectively referred to as advance practice providers), who work under a qualified physician, can also be your primary care provider.

There are also different types of primary care physicians, some of which you may need at different points in your life, depending on your health care needs.

General Internal Medicine

General internal medicine practitioners, often called general internists, focus on the prevention, diagnosis and management of chronic health conditions that can affect our major organs, but they often serve as primary care specialists because of their broad and intensive training.

Who they Treat: Adults

Training Completed

  • Medical school
  • Three-year residency in internal medicine with concentrated training on the body’s internal organ systems

Family Practice

Family practice physicians treat a variety of routine health conditions, but they may also provide some specialty care, such as treatment of sports injuries, minor surgeries or OB/GYN care. They are able to diagnose a broad spectrum of conditions and illnesses spanning multiple age groups.

Who They Treat: Family practice physicians generally treat all ages, from newborns to elderly.

Training Completed

  • Medical school
  • Three-year residency in family medicine

Geriatrics

As we age, it’s more likely that we’ll experience several ongoing conditions, which increases the complexity of the care we need. In addition, diseases and medications can affect us differently the older we get, and certain diseases, like Alzheimer’s, more often affect us at advanced ages. Geriatricians specifically focus on these areas. They help prevent, manage and develop care plans to address issues such as memory loss, arthritis, osteoporosis, mobility and balance and Alzheimer’s.

Who they treat: Generally, people who are 65 and older

Obstetrician and/or Gynecologist

Often called OB/GYNs, obstetricians and gynecologists are physicians who focus on managing the many aspects of women’s reproductive health, including managing pregnancy, labor and birth. But they also treat diseases that affect the female reproductive system. Gynecologists focus on reproductive health, while obstetricians work with patients to promote healthy pregnancies and manage more complex ones.

Who they treat: Women ranging in ages from preteen, teen, young adults and women in childbearing age, as well as women in menopause and beyond.

Pediatricians

Pediatricians manage the physical, behavioral and mental health issues of children - everything from preventive maintenance to the diagnosis and treatment of serious childhood illnesses.

Who They Treat: Newborns to adults. Pediatricians cannot be a primary care physician for adults.