Thursday, March 15, 2018

Your Primary Care Practice: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

By Sue S. Bornstein, MD
Dallas Internist
Member, Texas Medical Association Board of Trustees

Some of you may remember the TV series “Cheers.” While it was essentially a sitcom, I believe that the show had something important to offer. I am referring to the theme song. The song goes: “Sometimes you want to go/ Where everybody knows your name/ And they're always glad you came.”

What does this have to do with primary care medical practice? A lot! Primary care specialties are family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics. Although not always counted in the definition, obstetrics and gynecology practices provide primary care to many women, especially during their child-bearing years.

Primary care is the first place you should think to visit when you are ill. These physicians and their teams are highly trained to deal with problems that come up quickly and also take care of health issues that tend to be longer term, like diabetes and heart failure. Your primary care team will get to know you as a person, learn what health concerns and issues you may have, and find out what is important to you and your family. Think of your primary care physician as the quarterback of your health care team.

Why is it important to have a dedicated primary care team? People who have regular contact with their primary care physician are likely to live longer and be healthier.

As medical care becomes more complex with greater use of specialists and sophisticated testing and technology, having a primary care team committed to your health is more important than ever before.  A new model of primary care — the patient-centered medical home — was designed to make sure that the patient is always at the center of the care team.

The patient-centered medical home increases patients’ access to the doctor’s office through various means including longer hours, telephone consults, electronic visits, and even group visits. The model emphasizes better care coordination among health care team members and seeks to avoid unnecessary or redundant testing. It also focuses on helping patients better manage their chronic conditions like diabetes.

Your primary care patient-centered medical home will remind you when it’s time for a life-saving health screening such as a mammogram or colonoscopy and when it’s time for you to come in for a follow-up of your medical issues.

This new model requires that physicians and their teams hone skills such as:

  • How to create an effective care team; 
  • How to better engage patients in their care; 
  • How to identify and track patients who are at high risk for health problems; 
  • How to improve transitioning patients from the office to the hospital or hospital to rehab or other setting; and 
  • How primary care can improve care for people with depression and other behavioral health issues.

Primary care physicians strive to enhance the care they deliver, which is why many will attend the upcoming Texas Primary Care and Health Home Summit. TMA is a founding sponsor of the sixth annual summit dedicated to helping clinicians and their staff incorporate new tools and methods to improve the care they deliver to their patients.

The summit will be held April 5-6 at the Renaissance Hotel at the Arboretum in Austin.  Physicians and other members of the primary care team interested in attending can learn more at

1 comment :

Gregory Fuller MD said...

Where everybody knows your name and your names of family members AND you’re not known as a disease

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