Our first installment focused on preventative care and featured Dr. Aparna Asher from the Davita Medical Group in St. Petersburg. The conversation explored the importance of prevention, how to avoid prevalent chronic diseases, and how to build relationships with primary care providers.
Read Dr. Asher's thoughts on preventative care or re-watch the interview below!
1. What is primary care (vs emergency and urgent care) and why is it so important?
As the word “primary” in primary care quite simply implies: elemental or chief medical care of an individual. It is essential for one’s wellbeing, as a whole… before one is sick in an urgent or emergent manner. This is an opportunity for a person to establish a relationship with his physician, make the most of preventive health care and hence catch the problem before it becomes an issue, rather than have to treat it when it’s become a complication.
2. What advice would you give to someone looking to pick a primary care provider?
Picking a provider is sort of like dating in some ways. It’s not possible for every patient to like the personality of each doctor they meet, but however it is very important that they learn to believe in them, as it helps to build a healthier, more trusting relationship, and being able to be absolutely honest with your provider , be it male or female is the only way forward for a patient to feel not only better physically, but also emotionally, and this helps to heal the person as a whole. The commitment towards healing should be felt both ways. The ideal doctor- patient relationship has to always be open, earnest and nonjudgmental from either side .
3. What should people do to prevent chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes?
It’s actually true what your mamma told you: don’t eat too much cake, or too much salt, it really IS bad for you. Well, in the real world, not only sweets, but carbs are the true culprit. Sodas and juices which are substituted for water lead to unnecessary sugar consumption. It’s the snacking between meals which is the bigger problem. Fresh fruits and veggies are ideal, next frozen, and avoid canned foods because of the salt content. Always read labels.
4. What role do PCPs play in prevention?
PCPs are the gatekeepers of preventive health care, which means, they help in keeping the public healthy by routine screening exams, providing vaccinations, continuous monitoring of their chronic conditions via labs, routine exams, taking history, holistic care etc.
5. What are some of the long term impacts of these chronic diseases?
Loss of independence, especially in the elderly. INCREASING COSTS not only to the patient directly but indirectly as well by raising insurance premiums for all, and eventually, it costs the government billions in treatment of for eg, diabetes and pre-diabetes alone cost the government 322 billion in the last year according to the data from ADA.org.
6. How difficult are chronic diseases to manage?
- Complications arising from chronic diseases are a far greater challenge for the patient and the doctor to deal with in the long run. More medications, more time and effort to handle them and can be rather challenging for the Medicare population especially. Compliance with medications is inversely proportional to the number of meds a patient takes. And that’s just human nature.
7. In your experience, what are some of the top reasons people avoid seeking primary care?
Most people prefer to be reactive, rather than proactive. They don’t always grasp the value of proactive care, and it allows for smaller issues often unnoticed by the patient to be picked up not just by the provider but by the nurse, the staff at the doctor’s office, and sometimes, even the front desk. For example, Mrs. Smith calls and would like to reschedule an appointment because feels too sick to come in, the receptionist then inquires as to how, lets the nurse know, who then calls the patient, and takes a history. The nurse speaks with the physician who can then either have the patient come in or treat them on the phone or send them to a walk- in or ER depending on the gravity of the illness.
The obvious reasons of course are insurance, or the lack there of for some. Co pays could be high, depending on their insurance and their financial income status.
Others might be embarrassed to speak to their physician either because they haven’t established a trusting relationship with their provider, or for cultural reasons, or there could be a language barrier. Many times, especially in the geriatric population that I cater to, transportation is a big issue.