A family medicine doctor is often better known as a family doctor or a primary care physician. These doctors work with people of various ages; therefore, they often treat the entire family. Family medicine doctors are an important part of a comprehensive wellness plan for the entire family. Physicians in this field generally deal with routine illnesses, minor injuries, yearly physicals, vaccinations, and referrals to specialists. Continue reading to learn more about family medicine and how it can benefit everyone in your family!
Why Do I Need a Family Medicine Doctor?
There are many benefits to choosing a family medicine physician to care for your family. Family physicians are trained to provide comprehensive care for children, adults, and older adults. They are also well versed in treating common illnesses such as colds and flu, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, heart disease, and depression. In addition to providing primary care services, family physicians are trained in managing chronic diseases to ensure you continue to receive the proper medications needed for their management. They can also refer you to specialists to help manage or diagnose more complex conditions.
Despite the connotation that family physicians only treat illnesses and chronic conditions, one of their most important functions is to provide preventative care and education. Simply put, family physicians are experts at preventing illness by educating their patients about healthy lifestyles. They know when to recommend vaccinations, how to encourage exercise, and how to teach proper nutrition. Since they understand the importance of prevention, they are also able to identify signs of potential illnesses early on, so they can treat the problem before it becomes serious.
Flexibility for Your Visit
Technology has rapidly advanced in recent years, paving the way for new options in medical care. This includes the invention of telehealth visits at many family medical practices. In years past, patients were limited to in-person visits only. However, with the addition of telehealth options, it is now possible to attend your doctor’s appointment in the comfort of your own home. Depending upon the reason for your visit, your doctor’s office may recommend scheduling a telehealth visit instead of an in-person visit.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth refers to the use of electronic communication technologies to provide health services at a distance. The term “telemedicine” is also used interchangeably with telehealth, but they are different terms. Telehealth is defined by the American Medical Association (AMA) as:
The practice of providing healthcare services through the use of telecommunications technologies. It involves the exchange of information between a patient and provider using audio/video/data communications via telephone, video conferencing, email, text messaging, etc. Telehealth can include remote monitoring and management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, heart failure, hypertension, depression, epilepsy, HIV, cancer, and other diseases.
The AMA further states that telehealth is any type of service provided remotely that uses telecommunications technologies. Telehealth encompasses all types of services, including those delivered directly from a provider to a patient, as well as those delivered indirectly from a provider to a consumer who then provides feedback to a provider. In addition, telehealth can involve the use of information technology to connect providers and consumers to one another, thereby enabling them to communicate and share information.
Why Use Telehealth?
There are several reasons why you should consider using telehealth. First of all, telehealth saves time and money. By avoiding travel, parking costs, and waiting times, telehealth reduces expenses for both you and your doctor. Secondly, telehealth enables you to receive treatment when you need it most. With telehealth, you can get the same level of care as if you were sitting right next to your doctor, yet you will most likely be able to get an appointment the same day. Whereas, when you make an in-person appointment, you may have to wait a day or more before you are able to get an appointment to be seen. Since telehealth is so efficient, doctors are often able to schedule more appointments in one day, making the process of seeing your doctor easier than ever.
Furthermore, telehealth allows you to have access to your doctor regardless of where you live. If you’re traveling, living overseas, or simply unable to visit your doctor due to lack of transportation, telehealth can help ensure you are able to access high-quality health care. Telehealth also helps to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Many people with disabilities cannot easily leave their homes and must rely on others to take them to appointments. Telehealth allows these individuals to remain independent and continue receiving high-quality care. The same is often true for senior citizens. With telehealth, seniors are assured they can receive the healthcare they need without worrying about driving themselves, finding a driver, or dealing with inclement weather conditions. Thus, helping to mitigate disparities in the access to care for vulnerable populations.
Moreover, telehealth makes it easier to manage multiple chronic conditions. Since telehealth does not require face-to-face interaction, patients can monitor their condition without having to make frequent trips to see their doctor, helping to make life more manageable for those coping with chronic health problems. This can be especially advantageous for those with compromised immune systems, as they can receive routine care without taking the risk of being exposed to sick individuals during an office visit.
Simply put, telehealth simplifies and enhances healthcare. While in-person visits are still an important part of quality healthcare, telehealth expands upon the medical care that is already available to increase accessibility and convenience for those across the United States.
Are There Situations Where In-Person Visits Are Necessary Instead of Telehealth?
Telehealth has become increasingly popular over the past few years. However, there are some situations where in-person visits are necessary instead of telehealth.
While most telehealth visits take place via a video call, there are still things that cannot be measured without physically seeing a patient in the office. If you need testing, bloodwork, your lungs listened to, a lump or growth diagnosed, etc., it is impossible to do so without scheduling an in-person visit. In order to receive the best care possible, it is typically advisable to utilize both types of services as part of a comprehensive healthcare plan. Depending on the reason for your visit, your doctor’s office can best advise you on what type of appointment should be scheduled.
Family medicine physicians are an important part of managing your health. With both in-person and telehealth visits available, it is easier than ever to take charge of your health!
Anthony Cerullo is dedicated to family practice and trauma medicine in the rural communities surrounding Idaho Springs and for the last few years in the Southwest Denver region.