With today’s busy lifestyles, some families and individuals do not have family doctors. They may feel that it is too much trouble to make appointments and that they would rather visit an independent urgent care center just as needed. Worse yet, they may believe that it is acceptable to use an emergency room for primary care issues. From Johnson County, Kansas, Dr. Albert Chmielewski lists the reasons why every family or individual should have their own personal doctor and explains the advantages of having a dedicated medical professional on your side.
1. The Personal Touch
Family doctors take the time to get to know their patients. Family doctors are familiar with each patient’s medical history and also with their personal health concerns. This level of personal knowledge means that a family doctor is more likely to catch a disease or medical condition when it first occurs and before it develops into severe disease or possible complications thereof.
2. Broader Range of Experience
The average family doctor has experience treating newborns, children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly. They have the experience in the conditions and illnesses that need treatment throughout the course of a patient’s life. Using their well-developed diagnostic skills, they are able to use their in-depth personal knowledge of each patient to provide them with the best health care possible. Family practitioners employ their wide array of medical knowledge and skill with the expectation of improving their patients’ health.
3. Knowledge of Family History
When a doctor treats the same patient for many years, they become very familiar with their personal and family medical history. This is especially true if they treat multiple members of the same family which then allows them to apply their deep knowledge to diagnose and treat their ailments. Family doctors with a solid grasp of family history are also typically better at diagnosing familial disease based on past experience with other family members.
4. Management of Chronic Conditions
Family doctors are well-versed in treating chronic conditions that can happen at any age. Arthritis, anxiety, depression, heart disease, COPD, high blood pressure, and diabetes are just a few of the major chronic conditions that an experienced family practitioner can treat. Family doctors can also provide useful and appropriate referrals to specialists when they feel that such a professional is needed. Working in concert with a specialist, a family doctor can then be an integral part of coordinating a patient’s care, providing a collaborative approach which often yields the best patient outcome.
5. Saving Money
In today’s highly cost-conscious medical marketplace, the place of primary care doctors is extremely important. According to a study conducted by the state of Rhode Island, increasing primary care spending by 37 percent led to an overall reduction in healthcare spending by 14 percent. This reinforces the idea that a major investment in primary care is beneficial to the health care system as a whole, resulting in reducing total health care costs significantly.
6. Routine Health Screenings
Seeing a primary care provider regularly means patients receive recommendations for vital health screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies. More importantly, having the screenings done at the appropriate time reduces the risk of progression of these serious illnesses and reduces mortality rate. Preventative measures such as these decrease overall cost of health care therefore providing pro-active health care is one of the family doctor’s most potent strengths.
7. Catching Health Issues Early
When seeing a primary care doctor once or twice a year, patients are more likely to have their chronic conditions detected and treated at an early stage. Problems like high blood pressure and diabetes that are identified earlier, especially if they are caught in a mild state, can often be reversed if treated aggressively with lifestyle changes or medications. If a problem like elevated blood pressure or diabetes is not detected for an extended period of time, it can lead to serious health consequences like ischemic heart disease or chronic kidney disease.
8. Personal Comfort with the Doctor
When patients have a trusted family care provider, they typically feel more comfortable about expressing their health problems to them. Patients are more likely to receive treatment for issues that may be difficult or embarrassing to them like: anxiety, depression, impotence, or sexually transmitted diseases. Knowing that your family doctor is on your side can give you the confidence that you need to confide in them and take care of your own health.
9. Better Communication between Patient, Staff, and Doctor
Doctors who have a good rapport with their patients are more likely to encourage them to have healthy lifestyle habits; and those patients tend to have better general outcomes. Good communication between the patient, the physician, and the medical staff is paramount in providing exceptional patient care. A doctor or a nurse who is seen as a friendly and familiar face is more likely to influence a patient in a positive way. If a patient is not comfortable with their family doctor, studies show that they are less likely to comply with health recommendations and instructions.
10. Improving Patient Outcomes – Primary Care Matters
Adding just one primary care physician can improve patient outcomes drastically. A study published in the International Journal of Health Services showed that adding one primary care physician for every 10,000 people was associated with improved health outcomes such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infant mortality, life expectancy, and patient self-rated health. The study concluded that adding 1 family practioner per 10,000 patients resulted in an average mortality reduction of 5.3 percent, in simple terms, 49 less fatalities per 10,000 people each year.
An Impressive Suite of Benefits
Having a trusted family doctor is a huge advantage. The benefits of a family doctor range from better compliance with health instructions, better health outcomes, lower mortality, as well as a lowered cost of overall health care and fewer hospital admissions. Dr. Albert Chmielewski believes that many people’s health outcomes will be improved if they were to turn away from expensive urgent care or emergency room visits and were to take advantage of the services of a general medicine practice physician.