What is a medical home and why should I have one?

Although I am relatively new to the March of Dimes NC Preconception Health Campaign (NCPHC), I have learned through both my work and personal experience that most women need to be encouraged to be their own best advocate when it comes to their health care. Our campaign provides trainings to both health care professionals and consumers on the best practice areas of preconception health–one of them being the importance of non-pregnant women establishing a medical home and having a primary care provider.

Having a “home base” for your health care needs is good for everyone: your medical and family histories can be housed in one place, chronic conditions and/or medications can be closely managed, weight concerns can be monitored, and preconception health counseling, like reproductive life planning, can take place. Using a medical home for non-emergency health issues instead of the emergency room can save patients a lot of time and money, and it curbs the overcrowding in emergency departments. Plus, if you’re a woman of childbearing age, then having your health monitored by a primary care provider will help to keep you healthy should you decide to become pregnant.

Women also should learn to be their own best advocate when they have appointments with their health care provider. Surveys show that most women view their provider as the most credible source of health information, but those same women will rarely initiate a conversation with their provider about particular health concerns. To make the most of every appointment, write down your questions and concerns before you go and bring them with you. Also, bring all medications you are currently taking, including over-the counter drugs and supplements. If your doctor orders tests or prescribes a medication, ask the following questions: Why do I need this? What are you hoping this test will tell you? What does this medication do? What will happen if I don’t take this test or this medication? Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask…informed patients who show a vested interest in their own health care have the best chance of getting and staying healthy!

Having a medical home and being an advocate for your health are just some of the ways that you can take control of your health.

-- Brenda W. Stubbs

Revised: May 10, 2013

This web site is designed for informational use only; it is not designed to give advice, diagnose, cure or treat any medical condition you may have. If you have any questions about your health, please contact your health care provider.