The providers at Beacon Pediatrics have many years of experience dealing with a variety of medical issues impacting children and families. One lesson they have learned to share with all of them is the importance of having a medical home, as summarized below.
Your doctor’s office is your medical home, with your primary care provider at the helm. Primary care providers and their team members have all of your medical records, including your medical history, previous visits to their office and other providers, visits to specialists and the emergency room, as well as information on medications, allergies and family history. Pediatricians, internists and family medicine physicians all have extensive training, and most often are board certified in their specialty. They and their staff, which may include nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are the ones best equipped to monitor your health, catch health issues early and help prevent chronic illness.
PCPs and the medical home treat acute and chronic illnesses, minor injuries, and mental health issues. They do well checkups, provide prescriptions, do routine screenings and provide recommended immunizations. When necessary, your PCP can easily refer you to the appropriate specialist and work with that person to provide you with the best care possible.
You have an established relationship with your PCP, so communication is easier and more comfortable than it would be with an unfamiliar provider. It has been proven that patients who have a medical home are healthier, and their medical costs are lower, partly because the medical home can help prevent chronic illness and expensive emergency room visits. Your PCP is your partner, the beacon who guides you through the often overwhelming array of unfamiliar healthcare information and misinformation. It is best for you and your family to have a primary care provider for you and for your children.
It is also very important that you establish a dental home. Poor oral hygiene often leads to chronic illness and generally poor health.
Telehealth has become much more common and accessible since the coronavirus pandemic began. Most medical homes provide this service. It has been very helpful and convenient for families to be seen in the comfort of their own home.
The providers at Beacon Pediatrics are happy to do telehealth visits with their patients; however, telehealth does have its limitations. The provider cannot listen to patients’ lungs or heart, look in their ears or throat, or feel their abdomen.
We find telehealth most useful to do med checks for children on medications for mental health disorders such as ADHD, depression and anxiety. It is also a great way to screen a patient to help the parents decide if their child needs to come into the office for an acute illness, or, with advice, can continue to be monitored and treated at home.
Since a thorough physical exam cannot be done via video, prescribing medications for an acute illness through telehealth is usually not the best choice. Telehealth visits should ideally be with your PCP, not with a provider who does not have your medical records or an established relationship with you.
We feel the same way about walk-in clinics. Walk-in clinics may sometimes be more accessible than your PCP’s office, but they are generally not staffed by board-certified internists or family physicians, and never by board-certified pediatricians. Pediatricians do not treat children as though they are small adults. Examining, diagnosing and treating children is different from treating adults. They should be seen and cared for by providers trained in pediatric care.
Although walk-in clinics may be expedient, whenever possible, kids should be seen in their medical home by the team that has the appropriate training and knows them best, and where they are most comfortable.