Primary Care And You
Concept of Primary Care and Family Doctor
What is Primary Care?
A healthcare system can generally be divided into three levels of care: primary, secondary and tertiary. Secondary and tertiary care mainly include specialist and hospital services while primary care is the first level of care in the whole healthcare system and is also the first point of contact for you and your family members in a continuing healthcare process.
A good primary care system provides the public with access to better care which is comprehensive, holistic, co-ordinated, and as close as possible to where people live and work. Primary care provides preventive care as well as quality management of diseases to everyone which is important for promoting health of the population.
Primary care contributes to the health of the population and covers a wide range of services which includes the delivery and provision of :
- health promotion
- prevention of acute and chronic diseases
- health risk assessment and disease identification
- treatment and care for acute and chronic diseases
- self-management support; and
- rehabilitative, supportive and palliative care for disability or end-stage diseases
Who provides Primary Care in Hong Kong?
In Hong Kong, a wide range of healthcare providers are providing first contact healthcare. The majority of our population choose to consult western medicine doctors when health problems arise. A significant proportion of primary care services are also provided by Chinese medicine practitioners and dentists. Other healthcare professionals like nurses, chiropractors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, dietitians, pharmacists, optometrists, speech therapists, podiatrists, etc. are also providing primary care service in the community.
What is a Family Doctor?
A family doctor cares about patients beyond the treatment of their diseases. He is capable of providing comprehensive, continuing, whole person and preventive care to an individual and family in their own community or environment so as to ensure physical, psychological and social well-being for his patients. As part of the multi-disciplinary care team, he also co-ordinates the care provided by other healthcare professionals.
A good family doctor can provide the following care:
- Comprehensive and patient-centred approach
A family doctor provides continuing and comprehensive care which places emphasis on the patient’s perspective within the context of family and community. He is capable of managing multiple complaints and symptoms, both acute and chronic health problems with consideration of physical, social and psychological factors as appropriate.
- Continuing care
A family doctor is a lifelong partner for the patient. He carries the ongoing responsibility of caring for his patient and family. He will develop a continuing relationship with patients gaining their confidence. This invaluable doctor-patient relationship and trust could enable the family doctor to provide a better co-ordinated and effective healthcare service to his patients. It also minimises confusion due to miscommunications. Patients are therefore cared according to their changing needs and health conditions over the course of their lives.
- Preventive care
Apart from managing illness, a family doctor also aims to maintain health. He will also give professional advice in promoting health, modifying health risk factors and preventing diseases.
- Co-ordinated care
In taking care of patients with chronic illnesses, a multi-disciplinary co-ordinated service is needed. A family doctor serves as a co-ordinator in the process of supporting patients with progressive or complex long-term health conditions which require input from nursing and allied health professionals. This will help to reduce disease complications and improve health outcomes. Better co-ordinated care also minimises service duplication and helps patients receive the optimal care based on their needs.