The Importance of Family Medicine in the Information Age

a young family after visiting their family medicine centerOur lives revolve around family and our family revolves around a community, a place where we engage, play, learn, and grow. The world of medicine has made incredible strides as technology, practice, and medical research has improved our knowledge and understanding of the human body and its many ailments. The underlying purpose of family medicine and primary care, however, remains the same. New Light Primary Care embraces the humanistic and responsive nature of family medicine practice.

The Beginnings of the Practice -1800’s

In this stage of American medicine, there were no set standards or structures in practicing medicine. The doctors you may remember from films that depict this time in American history show the wise older men carrying their black leather bag traveling by horse and buggy to his patients’ farm or home. Many of these practicing physicians — though often very knowledgeable and competent — did not have any formal training. They learned by apprenticeship and mentorship from older working doctors. In these cases, doctors treated the entire family: they delivered babies, set broken bones, helped the dying, treated trauma or common diseases and were very connected to every member of the family often treating people from birth to adulthood.  

As rural communities gave way to cities, the need for structure and organization became apparent. There were several reasons for this. One was that the larger needs of the society began to surface and doctors saw the necessity for joining forces to combat common ailments. At the same time, the lack of standards often gave way to quackery medicine and many doctors claiming healing powers or practicing bad medicine.

The Beginnings of Standards – 1990’s

At the turn of the century the standardization of medical education, the promotion of standards of public health, the establishment of medical practice based on natural science, began. The American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation also emerged around this time as an important organization for some of these changes.

As specialization and bureaucracy took hold of many aspects of the medical industry, general practitioners or students of family medicine were often looked down upon as the specialized fields put a tremendous focus on technology and scientific advances, often at the expense of the patient-doctor relationship.

The cost of education rose significantly and made it more difficult for some people to embark on a medical education. In the 1960’s America saw a shortage of physicians and people often complained there had been a depersonalization in medical care. Family medicine saw a resurgence in the 70’s and 80’s thanks to research and several papers published in medical journals.

One fundamental concept that remains valid today is the ecology of medicine and the idea that the relationship between people and their environment plays a major role in their health. Studies concluded that the bulk of healthcare happens in the primary care setting, in local doctor’s offices, and thus the impact of family medicine on the overall health of the U.S population is not to be diminished.

The New Century – 2000’s

A well-known family care physician once said, “Medicine is always the child of its time and cannot escape being influenced and shaped by contemporary ideas and social trends.” In this sense, the idea that family medicine has no role or is not important to the overall and general practice of medicine is completely misguided. We are, after all, on the frontlines and encounter the incoming diseases as they grip communities.

Healthcare has become so increasingly complex that many people today refrain from seeing a doctor regularly due to a lack of insurance or the high cost of the treatment. This prevents families from establishing important connections with family practitioners and primary care physicians that can treat them over a long period of time and understand their medical histories, backgrounds, surroundings, family, etc.

The Information Age

Many people today visit a doctor and feel they are not being listened to, that they can’t communicate, that doctors have little to no connection with them and their particular suffering. This might happen if people wait to receive medical care at an emergency room or hospital. Primary care physicians are there to meet people’s needs in a friendly setting.

According to a recent Pew research study, 35% of Americans go online to seek answers for their symptoms and self-diagnose. The same percentage of those respondents never visited a doctor after self-diagnosing online and 18% of those that visited doctors found their internet diagnosis was incorrect.  

Many doctors have weighed in on the problem of self-diagnosis. This is becoming more and more common as the volume of information and the access to it grows and becomes more readily available. Yet, the internet or online forums cannot replace the years of training and study that a physician undergoes in order to treat patients and this can be causing major disconnect between people and their trust of a physician.

New Light Primary Care is there For You

It’s not about medicine. It’s about what you do with it. And what we do is help our patients return to health, wellness, and remain active and happy. New Light Primary Care medical clinic has physicians that understand the importance of an all-encompassing approach to medicine. We like to get to know our patients and see the bigger picture so that we can better understand your health. When it comes to your health, choose the best care.


Like this content? Share it here!