In the field of medicine, a patient receives primary care based upon an initial contact with a medical professional. Typically, a patient has a regular primary care physician who is the first doctor consulted for the diagnosis and treatment of a health problem. For patients with chronic health problems, Advanced Primary Care (APC) is often used. This approach involves a team of medical professionals working with the patient to manage long-term conditions such as diabetes and lupus, though short-term problems can be helped by the team approach as well.
An advanced primary care team typically consists of a small group of physicians, therapists and specialists who are best-equipped to help a patient deal with a specific problem. Members might include the primary care physician, a pain-management specialist, a respiratory therapist and others who can help patients take a holistic approach to health problems. A person who is being seen for a chronic health problem may not see the physician every time, but may instead work with one of the other team members on many visits.
The team approach means that patients who need extra support receive ongoing assistance to manage and control issues related to their long-term problems. A patient who receives advanced primary care will get help with such issues as controlling blood sugar, losing weight and managing pain. Instead of seeing the patient once every two or three months, one of the members of the advanced primary care team may see the patient much more frequently, even every week in some cases. This helps to ensure not only that the patient is being helped by the medical group, but also that he or she is doing the things necessary for dealing with a chronic condition.
Advanced primary care medical practices have a different focus from the more traditional types of medicine that is the norm in many places. Instead of dealing with patients only when there is a specific problem, these practices take a much more active approach to health care. There is more focus on preventive care and such practices use a holistic approach, dealing with the whole person and not just the problem or illness.
Medical practices as well as many insurers are coming to realize that using advanced primary medical care is actually a cost-effective way of dealing with chronic health issues. By helping patients to help themselves, APC practices minimize serious illnesses and hospital stays for many people. Instead, patients can take on much of the responsibility for their health needs themselves, and often end up with a greater level of success when backed by a supportive medical team.