Primary healthcare professionals work with various patients and possess wide knowledge about various physical, psychological and social ailments that can affect them. The purpose is to improve the health of their patients by easily providing access to the medical care that is required. It focuses on the whole individual rather than on a specific illness of an organ. In this manner, Primary Care improves the entire health and well-being of a patient by preventing or solving any problems that may be present or potentially present.
Benefits of Primary Care
When executed in a right direction, the primary care is quite beneficial for the health of patients and also reduces the financial burden on the public health system. This is because of a lesser need for secondary care and hospitalizations. It also:
- Increases access to healthcare services
- Improves quality of healthcare
- Focus on preventive health
- Reduces need for specialists
- Early intervention prevents further health conditions from developing
- It also improves patient relationships
Key Role of Primary Care
However, there are several hurdles that inhibit these benefits of the Primary Care. For example, shortage of the primary care physicians, the ongoing demand for the new practitioners and the way quality of care varies between different practitioners, regions, and countries. To avoid these barriers the Primary Care practitioners’ key role should be:
- Preventing social disparities
- Organizing health services to meet health needs
- Providing wider coverage of health care
- Assisting in making health care part of public policy in every sphere
- Helping to train leaders in effective healthcare
- Increasing the level of participation by all (patients, physicians, public health workers etc.)
So you see, the Primary Care practitioners are responsible for the ongoing health of their patients by preventing, diagnosing early and managing common health conditions. An important aspect of their work is making proper referrals to the specialists as and when needed. They are in a unique position to understand and study the natural course of the disease, the family setting in which patient is placed and to treat and follow up chronic or recurrent health conditions.
Types of Primary Care Providers
- Primary Care Physician
- Family Practice Doctor
- Internal Medicine Doctor
- Nurse Practitioner
Each of them is capable as they are the point of contact for the entry of the patient into the health system for advice and referrals. These Primary Care physicians or general practitioners are the most common type of health care providers that have the most general knowledge of patient illnesses, along with the widest variability in their patients. There is an exception where some primary care providers who are not physicians do not offer some services at the first contact, for example, dietetic and lifestyle changes for diabetic and cardiac patients. It is important to note that non-primary care physicians do not offer the same degree of comprehensive and ongoing care as they relate to particular Medical Specialties. However, the physicians and specialists all function best as a team.