By ALAN J. ORTBALS
Health care in America is becoming more complicated, more managed and more collaborative and that makes it increasingly important to have a primary care physician, according to Katie Parks, COO of the Anderson Medical Group.
AMG is a division of Anderson Healthcare, headquartered in Maryville, which also operates Anderson Hospital, Community Hospital of Staunton and Maryville Imaging. AMG has facilities in Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, Highland and Bethalto.
Some 28 percent of men and 17 percent of women in America do not have a personal doctor, according to a government survey and that’s not good, said Parks.
“The Primary Care Physician is the central point of your care,” Parks said. “You may see a specialist for a particular issue, but the PCP is the person who manages how those issues relate to your overall health. The PCP is kind of the hub of the spoke. Having a PCP does two things,” Parks added. “Not only do they know completely about you and your care but the PCP can also coordinate preventative measures to ward off future problems. Having a PCP is also important because they can detect illnesses early on in order to be treated before they balloon into something serious.”
People who do not have a PCP generally do not see a doctor on a regular basis. They wait until they have an illness or injury and then go to an urgent care center or emergency room and that’s a bad idea, said Parks.
“The emergency room staff does the very best they can with the information that they have but they don’t know you,” she said. “It is absolutely the place to go in the event of an actual emergency but people would be much better off to have a primary care physician and see them on a regular basis.”
Over the last 10 to 15 years there has been a movement in America toward the formation of physician groups, making health care more holistic and more collaborative. Anderson Medical Group consists of more than 60 providers with a mix of specialties including cardiology, endocrinology, family medicine, general surgery, internal medicine, OB-GYN, orthopedics, plastic and hand surgery, pulmonary and sleep medicine and rheumatology. There are currently 43 primary care providers who communicate and collaborate well with all of those specialties. They are familiar with all of the specialists in their group; can give the best guidance relative to the need for specialist care; and they can coordinate with those specialists to make sure the patient’s care is tailored to their overall health profile.
The Affordable Care Act encouraged health-care providers to move to electronic record keeping and that’s another reason people should engage a PCP and become a patient of a physician group like AMG. Through the digital platform, the PCP can easily keep track of the patient’s health care — their particular conditions, ailments and prescriptions. Test results, X-rays, MRIs and CT scans, etc. can readily be shared between the physicians of Anderson Medical Group, Anderson Hospital and Maryville Imaging. And, through a health information exchange, AMG physicians can keep track of care that may be administered by other health-care systems due to accident or illness while the patient is away.
Not only does the electronic record improve patient care through shared knowledge among the health-care providers of AMG, but it also allows patients to take an active role in their care. AMG has a patient portal that enables patients to request an appointment; ask their doctor a question; access test results; see their medical history; check their scheduled appointments; even pay their bills. All they need is an email address and Internet access. While it provides easy access for patients, it’s also secure to protect others from accessing your records.
“We want the community to know that our primary care physicians are available and ready to accept patients,” Parks said. “Our physicians work as team. They know each other’s specialties and work well together. Our primary care physicians can act as your guide to the health-care system. When you’re an Anderson Medical Group patient, you’re part of a community of providers that work together to meet your needs.”