What is Primary Health Care?
Primary health care is the first contact a person has with the health system when they have a health issue or problem that is not an emergency. It refers to a wide range of health services offered by medical professionals in the community. Your local physician or general practitioner (GP) is a primary healthcare provider, and so are pharmacists, nurses, and allied health providers such as dentists and physical therapists.
What Does the Primary Health Care Setting Involve?
Primary healthcare is typically provided in a community setting, such as a general practice or dental clinic. Primary healthcare providers may work in community health centers, medical clinics, and allied health practices, such as podiatry and physical therapy practices. Primary health care can also be obtained through health advice telephone helplines such as NURSE-ON-CALL.
What are the Services Delivered by Primary Health Care?
Primary health care can provide a broad range of services, such as
- Diagnosis, treatment, and care of individuals with health conditions
- Preventing health issues
- Promoting good health
- Managing long-term and ongoing conditions
- Early intervention
Primary health care plays a crucial role in advising and assisting you to prevent illness and maintain good health. Significant areas that you should seek advice on include:
- Stress and depression
- Poor diet
- Physical inactivity
- Managing and stopping smoking
- Hazardous drinking
Types of Primary Health Care Providers
There are several types of primary health care providers who are at the helm of the ongoing healthcare of patients. Each of them is competent of acting as the entry point for the patient into the health system for referrals or advice. These include:
- Primary care physician
- Family practice doctor
- Internal medicine doctor
- Nurse practitioner
Each of these practitioners usually has a certain patient group with which they are most suited. They have an in-depth knowledge of health issues that typically affect these patients. The general practitioner or primary care physician is the most common type of primary health care provider and has the most general knowledge of patient illnesses, along with the widest variability in their patients.
What are the Benefits and Challenges of Primary Health Care?
When utilized correctly, primary health care is very useful for managing a patient’s health and also minimizes the financial burden on the public health system. This is partly because of fewer hospitalizations and less need for secondary and tertiary healthcare services.
Other advantages of primary health care include:
- Increased access to healthcare services
- Early intervention to prevent health conditions from developing
- Improved quality of health care
- Reduced need for specialist care
- Focus on preventive health
- Improved patient relationships
Primary health care is responsible for the ongoing health of their patients by diagnosing, preventing, and managing common health issues. A crucial feature of their work is making referrals to specialists as and when required. Primary health care is also in a distinctive position to comprehend and study the natural course of a condition, the family setting in which the patient is placed, and to treat and follow up on recurrent or chronic health conditions.
The main objective of primary health care is to improve the health of patients by providing easy access to medical care. It also focuses completely on the patient rather than on the illness of a particular organ, system, or disease. It aims to improve their entire health and well-being by resolving or preventing any health issues that may be present or possibly present. In the pursuit of this goal, primary health care fulfills several key roles. These include:
- Providing a broader coverage of health care
- Preventing social imbalance in health care
- Organizing health services to meet health requirements
- Assisting to make health care and health a part of public policy in every domain
- Improving the degree of participation by all those who have a stake in health, whether physicians, patients, or those in the allied health services