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What Are Primary Care Teams?

Sandra Koehler
Sandra Koehler

In general, primary care means the medical care provided by the primary physician, otherwise known as the family doctor. Primary care teams, on the other hand, are a multidisciplinary group of highly trained medical personnel that work together as a team for the good of the patient. This approach to healthcare can optimize the quality of patient care. Setting up a specialized team unit demonstrates the ability to enhance the health benefits received by the patient.

Often used with complex medical conditions such as cancer, primary care teams go beyond the scope of the primary care physician. These medical professionals are often highly trained in a specific area of the medical field and function on serving all the different aspects of a patient’s care. These teams of medical professionals are responsible for delivering a comprehensive and coordinated care program. Members of a team can include physicians, nurses, and various health clinicians dedicated to a certain branch of medicine, including but not limited to medical specialists such as medical assistants, phlebotomists, social workers, physical therapists, and respiratory therapists.

A medical assistant taking a patient's history.
A medical assistant taking a patient's history.

Sometimes the non-physician members of the primary care teams assume a part of the treatment protocols performed by physicians in the past. For example, the physician’s assistant may provide the day-to-day or routine care including checks on vital statistics, medication reviews and physical examinations. The nursing staff is often responsible for monitoring daily progress and keeping the rest of the team informed of the patient’s progress.

Trained clinicians are also an integral part of primary care teams. Their role is often to assist the patient in rehabilitation, or helping the patients start doing daily living activities again. This is accomplished by identifying the health problem or disability caused by the health problem and designing a treatment program to increase the quality of life. These professionals can include individuals trained in regaining the physical aspects diminished by the condition or those trained in dealing with the social or emotional aspects that may be impeding the patient’s progression towards better health.

The most important aspect of primary care teams is their ability to communicate effectively and working closely with the different team members. Communication is the key to developing and implementing a coordinated care plan with the patient’s best interests in mind. Improvements as well as setbacks must be voiced to all the team members quickly and effectively to prevent delays in treatment or obstructions in the recovery process.

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    • A medical assistant taking a patient's history.
      By: Misha
      A medical assistant taking a patient's history.