Ep. 4: Understand How to Use 3 Distinct Healthcare Levels
This episode of the Dr. Momma Podcast addresses the need to understand how to use 3 different healthcare levels within the healthcare system.
One of my early blog posts addresses this topic, but I wanted to talk about it in a bit more detail for those you who have not read it. It is VERY important information and is apparently not common knowledge. I seem to regularly need to share this information with my patients in my private practice.
Now before you get all excited about what I am going to discuss, I am not talking about how to navigate the complex administrative parts of healthcare. There are many tidbits of information that are needed to understand what kind of insurance to buy, what your insurance covers and tips that can save you money. I am not addressing any of that. If you want those helpful tips, I suggest you check out a fellow physician blogger who writes on these subjects.
Also, I need you to understand that other physicians may have a different take on the subject discussed today, but I think what I am sharing is a great starting place. If your physician has given you other information, of course, you use that!
But as with every parenting topic that I discuss, I think healthcare topics should ALSO have a plan. Some initial plan on what to do. Any plan is better than no plan!
What am I talking about? Well, in general, I view medical care as 3 distinct healthcare levels. There can be overlap, but as you or your child gets sick, you might want to think about what kind of care is needed.
Understanding How to Use 3 Distinct Healthcare Levels
Category 1: Home care
In my blog post, I call this category Momma Medicine. Why? Because I am a pediatric physician and over 90% of kids are brought to my office by their moms. And as a mom myself, I understand the first of the healthcare levels actually starts with recognizing that something is wrong and deciding I need to do something.
That’s right! YOU are part of the healthcare team.
This level of care begins once parents decide that there is a problem that needs addressing. Not the level of needing a healthcare professional to step in, but a level that you need to use your favorite remedies.
What you do at home is important to physicians. If you end up seeing a physician, they will ask what you did and how long you did it.
Many illnesses stop at this level. So go ahead and stock up on your favorite home care remedies.
Category 2: Primary care
By this, I mean that you are taking your child to their pediatrician or you are going to your family physician. I cannot emphasize enough how much I feel people need to rely on great primary care.
These physicians are the glue that holds all the health problems together. No matter how many specialists you see, your primary care physician should be the all-seeing and all-knowing healthcare professional in your life.
In this category, I also include urgent care physicians and emergency room visits because these are often needed after hours when you can’t get to your real primary care doctor.
One of my podcasts delves deeper into my concern about the overuse of urgent care and walk-in clinics. There are consequences that you need to be aware of if you choose to have frequent care in these healthcare facilities instead of your primary care offices.
Category 3: The Specialist Physician
Like me! Why do I separate this category? Because specialists are seen after a problem is deemed more complex or more recurrent or more severe or more…something that a physician with advanced training in this one area may need to look at.
Without the need to focus on the many other possible issues that primary care physicians do, specialists can just zero in on our field. It is important for us that our patients are well managed by primary care physicians.
Be sure to check out the podcast as I delve deeper into each of these healthcare levels and give examples of how they are used correctly, and how they are used incorrectly.
Bottom line, I love my primary care physician colleagues! They make my job so much clearer. I can understand their thought process and plan of action and I know exactly how I can help. By short-circuiting the system with repeated urgent care visits, you are missing out on valuable healthcare discussions and planning.
Dr. Burton’s summary
I recommend you stick with the basics:
Step 1: Treat things at home, if not better, then
Step 2: Go see your local Doc Welby or Dr. Quinn, medicine woman, and try your best to get a treatment plan that avoids the need for a specialist visit.
Step 3: I am here, as well as all special physicians if you need me, but the goal should be a healthcare loop that skips specialists!
Now go out and have a happy healthy life. AND try NOT to glance over at all those urgent care centers you pass on your daily drives. Remember that all urgent care and walk-in clinics are not all created equal.
Your healthcare line of sight should be laser-focused on your primary care office unless a truly urgent visit is needed. But that visit should just be a pit stop on your way to your primary care.
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