With the 2015-2016 Provincial budget scheduled to be tabled on 26 March 2015, the final report of the Rural Health Services Review now completed, and an election campaign all but likely in April, it is time to reflect on some of the simple truths in health care.
A recent article in The Guardian of Australia (23 February 2015) titled “Want to learn the value of healthcare? Try to diagnose your own mother” by Dr. R. Srivastava spoke to the value of the generalist GP. I found the article timely as we in Alberta debate the cost, organization and shape of health care delivery in our province.
In the article the writer noted that all doctors view patients through the prism of their experience:
"When presented with a set of symptoms, specialists immediately think of serious diagnoses because this is what they frequently see. … Given the same symptoms, a general practitioner is cognizant that there could be a serious underlying problem but the probability is higher that it isn’t. As we were all taught in medical school, common things are common. It’s just that in this age of hyper-specialized, fragmented medicine, it takes a good GP to live by this adage”.
Dr. Srivastava also notes that the backbone of good medicine everywhere is robust primary care buttressed by high-quality specialist care:
"Done well, it has the potential to be comprehensive, satisfying and cost-effective. … At a time when the world is waking up to the benefits of bolstering primary care let’s not be the country to insidiously erode it.”
In the weeks, months and years ahead, much will be said and written about the health care system. However, let’s not forget the essence of a good and true health care system which is built around a high performing community primary care system, and in the words of Dr. Srivastava, “the importance of having a trusted general practitioner”.