Family Medicine: Our Best Hope For The Future of Our Health System
You might wonder why’d you ever need a family doctor when there are hospitals and plenty of specialists to choose from.
If you’re not a particularly unhealthy person, you might find it hard to understand the importance of family medicine, especially if they don’t have a history of illnesses in the family.
A family doctor’s job goes beyond treating you when you are sick. He or she sees to it that you maintain your family’s good health.
Treating You and Your Family as a Whole
Family medicine is different because of its focus on addressing the entire person. It’s not the treatment of a specific condition, but the treatment of the patient as a whole and in relation to their other family members.
Family medicine has hit strides in the management of ongoing medical conditions since it is done on a personal level, unlike the revolving door of patients that are common in hospitals.
Family doctors, armed with the medical history of the family, as well as information gleaned from forming a close relationship with the patients, can guide them through health and its system and coordinate a family’s health care.
Family physicians have form a clear perception of their patients’ and their family’s health by building a relationship with you.
This allows them to offer the best kind of treatment, one that it’s difficult to get at the hospital where visits are impersonal and even rushed.
Family Doctors: The Very First Doctors
Family doctors have perpetually been the cornerstone of humane and patient-centered care.
The practice of family medicine is not new. It is in fact, the very backbone of health care. The very first doctors were general practitioners. The work of family doctors continues a long and noble tradition of healing and preventing illness.
Doctors who practice family medicine provide services such as minor surgical procedures, care for a newborn, routine OB care, and treatment in the ICU, to name a few.
They also perform procedures such as colonoscopies, endoscopies, musculoskeletal injections, skin procedures, suturing lacerations, ultrasound imaging, vasectomies, and also educate you in family planning and pregnancy care, and more.
Studies reveal that family doctors:
- Have reduced health care costs
- Provide superior quality of healthcare
- Makes health care more accessible, as they are geographically distributed across the country more equitably.
- Can provide accessible healthcare to financially underserved populations
- Improves overall health not only through treatment but also via preventive services
- Are better at managing chronic illnesses
- Decrease a patient’s chance of premature death
What Sets Family Doctors Apart From Other Doctors
The patient-physician relationship is the focal point of family medicine. Family doctors take the time to consider additional health factors in their patients’ lives, including hereditary factors, family and community situations and personal relationships.
What sets family doctors apart is the extent to which they value, develop, nurture, and maintain a relationship with each patient.
A family doctor treats not physical symptoms, but you as a whole. The care that you get from a family doctor takes into account your physical, psychosocial, and emotional well-being. The care and recommendation that you receive are tailored to your lifestyle and your values.
This kind continuity of care is not something you will find in walk-in clinics or emergency rooms.
Invaluable Knowledge Should You Encounter an Emergency
Family medicine practitioners who are known for building relationships with their patients know what’s normal for you as a patient in an emergency room setting, which of course is invaluable information. It can make the difference between saving your life and losing it.
In an ongoing relationship with your family doctor, every visit won’t be a rehashing of your family history, personal habits, allergy history, etc.
How often do you have to convey your medical history, family history, and allergy history to your doctor?
In the emergency room, the patient is often asked to recount their medical history, and being that it’s an emergency, there is a high-risk for misunderstandings and foggy-headed answers.
The Disadvantage of Non-Family Medicine Specialists
Doctors in walk-in clinics are don’t know you on a personal level – which proves disadvantageous. Chances are, they end up prescribing you something that does not take into account your lifestyle and your values.
Say for example a medicine that makes you too drowsy that you’re unable to do your job, which is as important to you as your health; something that a family doctor would know.
Family Medicine: Preventive Medicine
Family medicine’s best tool is preventative medicine, which is rarely discussed during rushed visits to the emergency room or clinics unless you ask. This is because although preventative care is of vital importance, they are not as pressing as the immediate concern at the moment when a patient seeks medical help in an emergency room or a clinic.
Family doctors are the principal means for preventative health care and will see to it that you are educated on how to prevent recurrence of problems. With family medicine, specialists go back to the basics and remember the people. This is what makes our work matter and what makes being a doctor a fulfilling profession and not just another job.
Family Medicine Preserves the Covenant Between Doctors and Patients
Health systems are social institutions. They need to function well and be properly managed and financed. Health systems must have specialists and hospitals whose focus is treatment, but they must also have primary care doctors who actually care about prevention.
A well-functioning and properly-running health system has doctors who know their patients long and well enough to manage health as a whole, including mental and spiritual needs. It’s so easy to forget human dignity in the maze of high-tech, specialized, and depersonalized medical care. No amount of advancement in technology can take the place of the human side of doctor-patient relationships.
This is the essence of family medicine, the ancient historical covenant between doctors and patients, and where the health and medical professions need to return. A visit to the doctor should also have a social value, not just a therapeutic one. Family medicine gives patients the power to take responsibility for the maintenance of good health.
Primary care is our best hope for the future. Family doctors are the rising stars of the future. Your family doctor can play an essential role in your family’s overall health. A family medicine practitioner is someone you can rely on for long-term care.