NOVEMBER 17, 2014 – Preserving your overall well-being entails much more than simply keeping germs out of your body. What you eat, how much you exercise, your stress levels and your living environment all play an important role in your physical health. Private physicians have a keen insight into all these pieces of your life because they work much more closely with you than a traditional practice would. Here are five ways private medicine has an all-inclusive approach to your health.
1. Non-Episodic Care
In general, a fee-for-service physician often only sees patients when something is wrong. While this is good for treating illnesses, it does not do much in the way of preventing disease or maintaining health.
A private physician, on the other hand, tends to have a much a closer relationship with patients. The point of private medicine is to give people an attentive doctor. Many offer annual physicals to discuss any concerns that a patient might have. Additionally, these exams can help a doctor spot any warning signs and catch an illness in its early stages, which can prevent further complications down the road.
2. Coordinating Treatment
A primary care physician simply is not equipped to handle all the medical requirements a patient may have, which is why referrals to specialists are often a necessary part of treatment. In a fee-for-service structure, your doctor will typically give you the number of someone to call and fax over your records.
While this has been the practice for years, it can leave the door open for error. Medical records could get lost or confused in the transition, which can result in devastating mistakes. The Journal of Patient Safety estimates that medical errors related to a patient’s record account for as many as 400,000 deaths every year.
A private physician will take the time to coordinate the visit with a specialist. Many will personally set up appointments or discuss your background with other doctors to ensure that you get the care that you need. Your doctor understands your needs and can ensure you receive the best possible treatment.
3. Longer Patient Visits
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Care reports that physicians in a traditional practice could have upward of 2,000. That results in very quick doctor visits that average about 15 minutes, which is just enough time to hear your symptoms, diagnose the problem and write a prescription.
On average, private doctors may only have a few hundred patients to care for, which means they are able to spend more time with each person. Instead of simply ticking off your symptoms, you are able to discuss other factors that could be contributing to how you feel, such as your diet, sleep and exercise patterns.
4. Home Visits
While not all private physicians will make house calls, many will. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, home visits for Medicare beneficiaries alone more than doubled from 2000 to 2006 and continue to rise.
The benefit here is that a doctor who is in your home gets a chance to see how you live. The quality of your indoor air, the presence of pets and the cleanliness of a home will all contribute to your health. A physician who gets this kind of intimate look into the life of a patient will have a better understanding of the person’s life on a day-to-day basis and make adjustments or suggestions accordingly.
5. Effective Health Management
It is imperative to build a relationship with a healthcare provider, especially when it comes to patients who have chronic illnesses. Seeing the same doctor over and over instead of getting rotated through a practice gives a physician a first-hand account of a patient’s medical history, including how the person responds to certain medications and preferences for different types of treatments.
Patients who are looking for a doctor who caters to the big picture of their wellbeing by incorporating all the small details involved in health should seek the help of a private physician. Fewer patients, longer visits and house calls all result in a more complete kind of medical care.