Two Main Reasons Primary Healthcare is Changing
There are numerous factors that are prompting many new changes to the American healthcare system we once knew. Two of the main reasons these changes are occurring so rapidly are the advancements being made in health-related technology apps and the ever increasing shortage of U.S. primary care doctors, which is spurring health care facilitators to explore alternative methods for delivering increasing healthcare demand to a growing patient population.
Once upon a time people typically had two doctors in their lives, their childhood pediatrician and their family doctor. Unless you moved or your doctor passed away most people retained their family doctor for years, or perhaps until your doctor retired. Over the last decade or so change has slowly crept in. The family doctor became our primary care physician, often referring us to specialists like gynecologists or urologists when a test turned up a problem area or an office visit EKG showed an abnormality, the times were changing.
Today times are changing rapidly in primary healthcare. One reason is an increasing shortage of primary care doctors. Many of the older primary care doctors are retiring and of the young doctors today most are going into specialty fields of medicine, primarily because it pays more to specialize. Couple fewer doctors practicing primary care medicine with Obamacare and what you have is a dwindling pool of primary care doctors in a rapidly increasing patient population. These conditions require a call to action and the healthcare community has responded.
The Options the Changes Offer
The response has been relatively swift, insurers and healthcare advocates alike are broadening the acceptable means of healthcare delivery, expanding what is covered under private insurance plans as well Medicare and Medicaid. Healthcare-related Smartphone apps, Big Box retail clinics, drugstore walk-in healthcare, urgent care centers, house calls and telemedicine are all changing the way primary health care is now being delivered to patients. Below are a few tips on how you can adapt your responses to these changes and a few changes of your own you may want to make:
Tips on What You Can Do
- Take Charge of Your Healthcare – You have a lot of alternative methods of getting care today. Know what your options are, what options are covered by your insurance and always examine the costs against your options. Question your healthcare provider when they want to run diagnostic tests, asking what options are available for that procedure so you can compare prices. An X-Ray is an X-Ray no matter where you have it done, but the cost of an X-Ray can vary greatly depending on where you have it done, there’s nothing wrong with price shopping your healthcare.
- Retain a Primary Care Doctor – Your health, age and how technology savvy you are will determine how important it is for you to retain a primary care doctor. If you are getting on in years and have at least one chronic disease that needs monitoring maintaining a primary care doctor is very important, especially if you are not computer, Smartphone, app literate. You will need a primary care doctor to oversee and manage your healthcare. For younger patients in relatively good health it is not imperative, but it is suggested to at least have a primary care physician even if you only see him once a year. If you are getting healthcare from multiple sources it is up to you to see that your medical information gets passed on to your primary care physician.
- Use Technology to Your Benefit – For basic non-emergency healthcare the numerous forms of treatment methods are a great advantage in getting fast, convenient, and lower cost healthcare; use all the technology you can. Many insurance carriers offer free tools or apps to help you compare prices and inform you as to what is covered and what’s not. Use your healthcare dollars wisely.