Nov. 24, 2014
Did you know having a good relationship with your family doctor is beneficial to your health and quality of life?
Research tells us that people who have a family doctor have better health outcomes. Better health outcomes means better quality of life, who doesn’t want that?
Having a family physician improves health outcomes for many reasons, but at the centre of all these reasons is the doctor-patient relationship you depend on over your lifetime.
The doctor-patient relationship is built and nurtured as you and your doctor get to know each other over time. Like all relationships it’s a two way street. It’s important for you to be open and honest with your doctor. The information you give your doctor provides potential clues to health issues that you may not be aware of.
Family doctors see people at all stages of the life cycle and in every state of health, often when we are at our most vulnerable. They have a broad knowledge of our health needs and our body systems. From providing prenatal care to juggling the complex health-care needs of frail seniors, family doctors do and see it all.
Continuity of Care
Seeking care through your family doctor ensures you have what is called continuity of care, which means you are receiving quality care over time. Ongoing knowledge of your health allows your doctor to work with you to keep you healthy. Your doctor knows when tests are required, and just as importantly, when they’re unnecessary.
A family doctor knows when you should see other care providers such as a specialist, nurse practitioner or a dietician. They know what’s normal for you, so they know when an issue needs further investigation. Continuity of care also results in fewer unnecessary tests than if you seek care through various providers.
Your family doctor knows your personal medical history and that of your family. A family doctor will know when a health issue requires further investigation or when a disease that’s prevalent in your family may become a factor.
Perhaps several of your close family members have diabetes. Your family doctor will use this information in combination with diet and exercise counselling to help you prevent the onset of the disease by managing your weight and staying active. Your doctor will also monitor your blood sugar to be sure it’s within healthy limits. If you develop diabetes your family doctor will work with you and other care providers to help you maintain healthy blood sugars through diet, exercise and/or medications.
Chronic Disease Management
Research shows family doctors are beneficial in helping manage chronic diseases such as diabetes or chronic heart failure. Chronic disease patients who access care through their family doctor have fewer hospital stays and fewer trips to the emergency department.
Not only does the chronic disease patient have better health outcomes, access is improved for other patients who need a hospital bed or emergency services. The patient wins and so does the health-care system.
Family doctors are the first line of care for patients with mental health conditions or illnesses. They can help the patient manage their condition to help avoid crisis events or refer them to mental health professionals when needed.
These are just a few ways family doctors contribute to your health and our health-care system. It’s also why Doctors Nova Scotia believes every Nova Scotian should have a family doctor. Your family doctor may provide many other aspects of unique care depending on your unique health profile, their scope of practice, and the depth of the relationship you share.