What Factors Affect Quality in Primary Care?

B. Leslie Baird
B. Leslie Baird

Factors that can affect the quality in primary care services include the type of insurance an individual has and the training a chosen physician has received. The patient’s ability to express concerns and follow the advice given is also influential. Receiving consistent care from one or two physicians can provide a better focus on the unique patient. Utilizing all available resources for information, and being proactive when it comes to primary care, can make a significant difference in the quality of the care a patient receives.

Primary care can be described as the first care a patient receives. A primary care physician (PCP) is often a general physician or family doctor. These physicians are usually trained in a broad range of medicine. If a patient's need is beyond their training, these professionals usually send him to a specialist in the required field. If a patient is first seen at an urgent care or emergency facility, follow up treatment will often be referred to a PCP.

The type of medical insurance an individual has may affect the quality in primary care services received. While all patients should be able to receive medical care, insurance can play a major role in which health care providers are available. In the U.S., people can receive treatment at emergency facilities without insurance but they may have difficulty in obtaining follow-up care. Other countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada, may have universal or national health care systems, but the wait for non-emergency services may be considerable.

Quality in primary care may be affected most by the physician’s training and the patient’s willingness to speak up when there are questions and concerns. The number of years of experience a doctor has can greatly improve his or her expertise. Physicians may also specialize in particular areas even if they are listed as general family doctors. Patients have rights when it comes to medical care and understanding their care is an important part of those rights.

Patient education can also be important for determining the quality in primary care. If a patient is unable to express his or her health concerns, the physician may not be able to understand the entire health situation. Honesty on the part of the patient and the ability to trust the medical provider are crucial. If a patient does not feel comfortable with a PCP, another provider should be chosen.

Group PCP practices may or may not be beneficial to the patient. A patient that is constantly treated by a different physician may not be receiving the best continuous health care plan. When the same patient only deals with one or two PCPs, the treatment may be more continuous and allow for some additional ideas or opinions on their health plan.

To ensure that the best quality in primary care is received, a patient should take time to investigate the chosen physician. Insurance providers should be questioned about what types of coverage are provided. All avenues of assistance, that may be available through an insurance company, should be utilized. Pharmacists can also offer another source of qualified information.

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