Most medical providers focus on a particular part of the body or a specific type of disease. Providers who specialize in family medicine provide comprehensive care to patients of all ages with all sorts of conditions.
When someone has a non-emergency health concern, they often see a family provider first. Because they focus on the “whole patient” and provide treatment over long time periods, family providers are uniquely suited to providing preventive care and managing chronic and complex conditions. They also screen for early signs of serious conditions, such as cancer.
Many patients develop long-standing relationships with their provider, and come to think of him or her as “my provider.” Over time, the provider comes to know a great deal about the patient’s health history and medical needs. This helps in preventing health problems and reducing health risks, which are key elements of family medicine.
In many areas, the local provider may follow an individual from infancy through adulthood. He or she may also treat other family members, and have access to medical histories going back a generation or more. This provides insight into individual health risks and enables the physician to better help patients get and stay healthy.
- Treat a wide range of medical issues
- Coordinate care with other medical professionals
- Care for the whole patient, including mental and emotional needs
- Strive to build long-term relationships with their patients
- Provide information and techniques to help patients take control of their health
- Focus on preventing illness as well as treating it