Better health care can save money too!

Primary health care (PHC) is the first level of contact that people have with the health care system. Examples of PHC include visiting your family doctor, nurse, pharmacy, health unit, or clinic. PHC is an important source of chronic disease prevention and management. Here's how PHC works, and how it helps improve the quality of care you receive and at the same time contain costs for the health system so services will be there when you need them.

PHC promotes a healthy lifestyle. It focuses on preventing illness and injuries and managing chronic conditions. It usually costs less to prevent a health problem than to treat it once it has developed, and managing chronic medical conditions can help prevent complications that may have a serious impact on quality of life as well as the overall costs to the health care system. By helping to avoid injuries and illness and managing chronic health problems better, everybody wins.

With PHC, a team of health care professionals (such as doctors, nurses, and pharmacists) work together to ensure that you get the best possible care. Sharing information within the team can help the team make decisions about your care right when they need it. The team approach results in better-coordinated care and less duplication of effort. It also saves time for health care professionals.

Another feature of PHC is providing access to the right health care at the right time. In Canada, many emergency department (ER) visits are for medical conditions that do not require urgent care (such as sore throats or earaches). Offering access to appropriate primary health care in the community when people need it, including toll-free health advice lines, can take some of the load off of the emergency department. In addition to providing cost-effective care, this may also improve access to ERs for people with urgent medical problems and reduce waiting times.

Primary health care helps provide better quality care for Canadians, and helps contain health care costs, which can help build a more sustainable health care system. For examples of how PHC can help, read the three patient stories included in this article.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Smart-Health-Care-Solutions

Sarah's story: The mother of invention

Sarah* is a 27-year-old woman who lives in a remote community. Because of the remoteness of Sarah's community, a nurse practitioner (a nurse who performs an expanded role, including diagnosing and managing medical conditions as well as prescribing certain drugs) works as part of a primary health care team with a doctor that lives in another community.

When Sarah became pregnant, she wanted to make sure that she was involved in making decisions about her care, and that her preferences, including having a midwife at the birth, would be considered. Fortunately, Sarah's nurse practitioner was part of a primary health care team that had a midwife on the team.

Sarah's nurse practitioner helped form a team (including a midwife to assist at the birth) to help Sarah get the high quality, coordinated care that she needed throughout her pregnancy. By working with her team, Sarah was able to participate in making decisions about her care during her pregnancy and the birth. This gave her an increased sense of control over the process. Because Sarah's team was able to quickly and easily exchange information, they were able to provide better-coordinated, more consistent care that was also more cost-effective.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Smart-Health-Care-Solutions

Jamal's story: Beating depression

When Jamal,* age 42, noticed that he was feeling sad and hopeless, losing interest in things he used to enjoy, and having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, he went to his family doctor for help. Jamal's family doctor, Dr. Adams, recognized Jamal's symptoms and diagnosed him with depression.

Thanks to the relationship that Jamal's family doctor had with a team of mental health experts, Jamal was able to continue seeing his family physician confident that he had the expertise and support he needed. Jamal had an entire team of professionals available to help him manage his depression. At the time Jamal was diagnosed with depression, Dr. Adams was able to access the expertise of a team of health professionals, including specialists, pharmacists, and nurses. This way, Jamal had the convenience of having his care coordinated through his family doctor, and the confidence of knowing that Dr. Adams had access to a whole team of mental health professionals.

The first medication that Jamal tried for his depression left him with a distressing side effect – sexual dysfunction. It reached the point where Jamal no longer wanted to continue taking the medication. Jamal mentioned this problem to his pharmacist, Tim Jones, who worked with Dr. Adams to deal with the problem by switching to a different medication.

Although the new medication didn't cause sexual dysfunction, Jamal found that he was still experiencing symptoms of depression. One evening, he was feeling particularly low, and needed to talk with someone. Fortunately, his team had given him the number for a nurse who he could contact for support after hours. Jamal spoke to the nurse, who assessed his condition, provided him with emotional support, arranged for him to see Dr. Adams again, and made sure that Dr. Adams was aware of the situation. Before Jamal's next appointment, Dr. Adams consulted with Dr. Bell, the team psychiatrist, who lived in another city. The two developed a strategy for adjusting Jamal's medication. The new strategy helped, and Jamal was soon on his way to recovery.

Jamal's story illustrates some of the benefits of collaboration between family physicians and mental health teams – better coordinated, more efficient, and higher-quality care that is available within a person's own community.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Smart-Health-Care-Solutions

Roger's story: Help at home

Roger* is a 78-year old man with arthritis, heart problems, and emphysema. When Roger's wife died four years ago, his children thought that Roger would need to move to a nursing home. But thanks to the home care he receives from a visiting nurse, Roger has been able to stay in his own home.

Roger's visiting nurse, Lydia, works for the health region's home care services. Home care provides health-related services to people at home, helping them stay in their own homes longer. These services include nursing care, health promotion and teaching, support for caregivers, and rehabilitation. When Lydia visits Roger in his home, she brings her resources with her. She has access to medical references at her fingertips, so that if questions or problems arise during a visit with Roger, she can deal with them on the spot. This may help save time, give Roger quicker access to the care and information he needs, and even save on the health care costs of extra visits.

* Note: The stories of Sarah, Jamal, and Roger are hypothetical stories based on the goals of primary health care.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Smart-Health-Care-Solutions