How Family Medicine Could Repair a Healthcare System in Need

Sep 30, 2020

Family medicine doctors provide one of the most valuable services to the healthcare system; they work to reduce unnecessary care. 

Tapping into the larger opportunities that this collective, preventative approach enables for our industry also reveals the implicit importance within individual facilities. Working closely with Larry Bauer, CEO of the Family Medicine Education Consortium, we have highlighted some of the ways that your facility can best approach leveraging the power of family medicine doctors. 

“Family Physicians work to protect people from the medical-industrial complex.” -Larry Bauer

The above statement from Mr. Bauer perfectly captures what pulls so many people into this line of work. Family medicine is a critical component of our healthcare system because of the inherent patient-first focus. The passion and versatility of this type of practice leaves family physicians poised to take care of a broad range of patients. 

Larry Bauer continues on to elaborate on what putting the patient first looks like. 

“Family Physicians are ‘generalist experts’ who are good at serving patients with comorbidities. Understanding a patient’s values and preferences while they consider the scientific evidence related to the patient’s problems, they can personalize care to the needs of the patient. They are pragmatic--what works for the patient comes first.”

This is what we really mean by seeing passion and versatility at work. 

 As advocates for the value of family medicine physicians, we want to make sure your facilities work to maintain their placement on your staff. Family medicine is an incredibly demanding profession and we don’t want to discount that truth. But for the practitioners’ sakes, we want to highlight the exceptional sacrifices they make and help pave the way for more to follow in their footsteps. The broader system benefits from such efforts and placements.

 We know that there is often a crucial need to focus hiring efforts on specialized doctors. But we also know that family medicine doctors are often overlooked because their specialties aren’t specific enough. While specialists are a necessity, a major source for specialists’ referrals is family medicine doctors. 

While the ‘direct’ monetary influx of a family medicine doctor may be smaller than a specialist’s, they do have a direct impact on how much work the specialist receives. Four years ago, a large hospital system on the East Coast announced that it would be getting rid of its family medicine residency because there was uncertainty as to the value. There was a large outcry against this decision, which forced the program to stay in place. Then, this year, as the COVID-19 crisis ravaged our industry, family medicine doctors stepped up and proved their invaluable support. 

Jamaica Queens Hospital had 150 patients helicoptered to upstate New York (specifically, Albany). That hospital turned into an ICU (a demand from Governor Cuomo) and was staffed by family medicine residents and physicians from outpatient facilities because no one was going to them. These doctors and residents showed their care adaptability and flexible abilities. 

We’ve also seen family medicine doctors training pediatricians to help treat older patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been an all-hands-on-deck scenario that, again, proved the versatility in the practice of family medicine. 

Without a quick answer to the physician shortage, our healthcare system needs to be better prepared to keep our growing population healthy. Both during a pandemic and in their day-to-day practice, family medicine doctors are an essential part of battling that shortage. We know that we, as an industry, can better prioritize plans to deal with pandemics like COVID-19 better. 

“Family Physicians have an adaptive capacity that allows them to respond to the whole ecology of care--filling niches where needed. We see them adapt to advances in medicine by integrating nutrition, genetics, and evidence-based medicine.” -Larry Bauer

You can learn more about Larry Bauer, the Family Medicine Education Consortium, and their initiatives at https://www.fmec.net/


If you'd like to watch our full Inline Session with Larry, click here to Access Webinar .