You may be surprised at what family physicians do

November 30, 2020 – 12:57 pm
Michigan Academy of Family Physicians | MAFP

Americans maintain a fond respect for the classic image of the family physician, making house calls with black handbag in tow. They admire the Marcus Welbys of the world. While this classic image is endearing, it should not be confused with the 21st century family doctor. The modern family physician is trained to engage in the adaptable world of health care and systems innovation. The face of family medicine is certainly changing as it responds to the needs of both patient and community. However, the tradition of compassion and personal relationship remains intact. So, while some may suggest that family physicians are a dying breed, we contend that family physicians are a flexible and essential component of the next generation of medicine.

To be upfront, we are all faced with a seriously challenged health care system – one that is outrageously expensive, poorly coordinated, and generally not accountable for outcomes. The problems are manifest in lack of transparency, inefficiency of communication and continuity, and absence of personalized care.
So, what then, does our health care system need more than anything else? Our answer is the ingredient that brings sanity, cost effectiveness, quality of care, and patient centeredness: the family physician.

An important agent of necessary practice evolution is the family medicine training program. These programs are purposefully and actively working to provide better tools for the new generation. For the Marcus Welbys 2.0. The new “tools” in the next generation black handbag for family doctors include population health management, flexible usage of technology, advocacy, teamwork and communication. Family medicine residency programs from around the country have already begun to develop teaching opportunities to address areas such as (1) population data management and community engagement; (2) adaptable integration of technology; (3) awareness and involvement in active patient advocacy; and (4) clinical team dynamics. This will allow future generations of family doctors to address patient, community, and system needs in a new and unique manner that can provide a better chance for success in our rapidly changing health care environment.


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