Before the mass migration to urban cities, there was a time when the doctor was much more integrated in the community. They were a part of the extended family, knew the family background, and developed a relationship with the family members based on trust.
The Reality of Modern Medicine
Unfortunately, much of this has been lost in modern medicine. The average face-to-face time with a doctor in the US mainland lasts an average of eight minutes, and the same can be said for here in Puerto Rico. There are inherent flaws in this system. How much information about you can a physician realistically gather in such a short period of time? What level of empathy and trust can be established? And what kind of comprehensive care can be provided?
As the first line of defense, Primary Care used to be the foundation of a good healthcare system. This was based on a meaningful doctor-patient relationship built on trust and a deep understanding of the patient’s medical history and current state of wellbeing.
However, in Puerto Rico we have virtually abandoned this concept. Very few people have a trusted relationship with a Primary Care Physician (PCP) they visit with regularly, and can access right away. The reality is that most people don’t even have a PCP, but rather search for a particular sub-specialist when something feels wrong. This often means that issues that start out as small concerns are neglected until they develop into large enough problems that patients seek care. Not only is this inefficient, it can often be dangerous.
The ideal situation is to have a strong relationship with a PCP who knows you, manages your health needs as they arise, and decides when you should consult with a sub-specialist. Most people don’t realize this, but most Primary Doctors are also specialists, whether in family medicine or internal medicine. As a result, they are well trained to treat most common conditions, plus they have the advantage of knowing the big picture of your medical history (if you have a relationship with one).
Primary Care During the Pandemic
The role of a PCP is becoming even more relevant during a health crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic. For example, what are you going to do if you start having symptoms? First, you will want to have a test done. Who is going to send you the order you need for that test? You may opt to call in a favor with that friend-of-a-friend who is a doctor, but what are you going to do if you test positive and the symptoms worsen? You may question the value of the test, which might play out a bit like this: “Oh wait, did I test positive with a PCR or the other one? Does it matter? What is the difference again? Something about Antibodies? IgG, IgM? Where was the article that my friend sent me back in April? Is that even still relevant? More important, what do I need to do now? Should I go to the hospital? If so, how do I know when and where to go? Everything is just so confusing… maybe I can call that doctor that I went to that one time and ask for a favor… but he never picks up…”
You get the picture here. This pandemic is far from over, and COVID-19 is going to be with us for a while. It’s time for you to put your health first, and make sure you have a plan if things go south. My recommendation is that if you don’t already have one, you act quickly to establish a relationship with a PCP you feel confident in. Go with someone that is reliable and has the time for you when you need them. The unfortunate reality is that things are going to get worse before they get better, and it’s never been more important to prioritize your health.
About Pravan Health
Pravan Health is a concierge medical clinic that is focused on prevention and wellness and is fully aligned with the U.S. Surgeon General’s National Prevention Strategy vision: “working together to improve the health and quality of life for individuals, families and communities by moving the nation from a focus on sickness and disease to one based on prevention and wellness.”
Our primary care specialist team is dedicated to looking after your health needs in a personalized manner acting as your medical concierge partner. From primary care and preventative medicine, to the treatment of chronic conditions, we have you covered. Our physicians and specialists are available 24/7 for your convenience. We’re committed to delivering the expert medical care you need, when you need it.
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