What Is the Difference Between Primary Care and Internal Medicine?

What is the difference between primary care and internal medicine?

While thinking about a first-contact visit at the doctor’s, various names can come to mind – “primary care physician,” “family doctor”, “internal medicine practitioner”, etc. However, contrary to popular belief, they are not exact synonyms. 

It is always best to know what exact specialist is needed in your case because understanding such differences can help you choose the right doctor for you. So, what is the difference between primary care and internal medicine? 

Read on to find the answer!

What Is Primary Care?

Primary care is a wider term that can include, most significantly, family medicine, internal medicine, gynecologists, and pediatrics. 

The role of a primary care physician is in preventing diseases by providing regular check-ups and necessary vaccinations. Ordering basic labs and interpretations is also an important aspect of the primary care physician’s role. 

Types of Primary Care Physicians

The division within primary care is associated with the patient’s age. Namely, internal medicine doctors treat adults (over 18), while pediatricians specialize in helping children. 

All these specialists have knowledge and experience focused on a certain group of patients, so choosing your doctor, depending on who you are, will help you to reach a practitioner who is the most eligible to treat you.

What Is Internal Medicine?

Internal medicine practitioners (sometimes also referred to as internists) are masters of complexity. Their main focus is adult medicine, and they are educated and trained to make a diagnosis, treat serious long-term diseases, and help patients suffering from various complicated chronic conditions. These physicians spent most of their time mastering chronic medical conditions occurring in patients over 18+. Internal medicine practitioners do not deal with children and the developmental aspects of adolescents or gynecology/ob. 

As they offer constant and comprehensive healthcare, they create lifelong relationships with their adult patients. As a result, their recommendations can be based not only on one or two consultations but on years of treating a patient – therefore, they are more personalized, better adapted to one’s unique situation, and often more effective.

The Importance of Internal Medicine

A huge advantage of internal medicine is that it allows the physician to see the bigger picture. As they have to take complex training and learn the processes happening in the whole human body and all the organ systems, they have an excellent understanding of how it should all work together for a patient to stay in good shape. 

Internal medicine practitioners carry out various complex analyses, combine many different data sets and search for solutions to provide optimal health outcomes. Interestingly, they are sometimes called “doctor’s doctors,” as other physicians frequently call upon them due to their skill to connect the dots and help in solving difficult medical problems. Thanks to their wide expertise, they are vital both to doctors and patients.

What Are the Benefits of Primary Care?

Primary care as a whole (including internal medicine) is an essential part of the overall healthcare system. There are many benefits showing that it is definitely worth choosing the best primary care physician you can find. Check some of the most important ones below!

Healthcare Continuity

When you constantly visit the same primary care practitioner, they can provide you with comprehensive care as they know your medical history very well. That can be crucial in diagnosing various diseases and making identifying your illness easier. 

The sooner the problem is discovered and treated accurately, the bigger the chances for quick and complete recovery. It is also crucial that a primary care physician does not only work on their own – they often cooperate with other doctors and healthcare professionals to provide their patients with the best treatment.

Lower Costs

It is worth keeping in mind that preventive care services are usually fully covered by insurance without a copay, as they are strongly associated with better health and lower costs. If you see your primary care doctor regularly for routine control examinations, screenings, and immunizations, it is more likely that you will avoid expensive treatments and medicines later on. 

More Effective Health Problems Prevention

The better your doctor knows you, the easier it is for them to be aware of your overall health and warn you of any possible problems. For example, if they know you had problems with your kidneys before, they can tell you how to take care of them to prevent more serious problems from happening. Also, if they know your unhealthy habits (like smoking, eating junk food, or not having enough sleep), they can recommend lifestyle changes that will improve your well-being and lower the risk of serious diseases. 

Relevant Guidelines to the Healthcare System

Primary care can manage many milder health issues, but it often happens that they need to send us to a different doctor specializing in a particular kind of medicine, like a gastroenterologist, urologist, dermatologist, and many more. 

They will tell you what exact specialist you need and may even give you some recommendations of the best doctors in the area and guidelines on how to reach them. Without the proper knowledge, navigating the healthcare system can be quite challenging, so some professional help is always useful.

On top of that, they will coordinate with your specialty physician to make sure they get the right data without missing any crucial information or duplicating the same tests unnecessarily, which would prolong getting the final diagnosis. 

A Trusted Health Advocate and Advisor

Your primary care physician can become someone more than just your health expert – they can be your true health advocate and advisor. Regular visits whenever you feel unwell or want a regular checkup will help you develop a closer relationship with this medical professional and make sure that you can trust them regarding the most significant thing in life – your health. 

For a more accurate diagnosis, it is sometimes necessary to answer some private questions, and it is much easier to do it when you talk to someone you know and trust, compared to a total stranger.

Find a Reliable Internist (or Other Primary Care Doctor)

In both Chau Medical Group locations in Orlando and Winter Springs, you will find well-trained, experienced, and reliable internists/primary care physicians. They will keep your medical history always to have a bigger picture of your health and provide you with the best care whenever necessary. Call us to schedule a visit! Remember that new patients need to fill out a form first.

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