The Benefits of Providing Procedures to Your Patients

March 18, 2011

Incorporating procedures into a medical practice certainly cannot occur overnight. Physicians must ensure that they are proficient and must devote the needed amount of time for proper training. But your patients will appreciate it.

Primary care physicians have the unique ability to not only provide excellent medical care to their patients in the form of treatment advice, medications, and referrals, but also to save their patients time and money by providing simple procedures in the office.

In my residency program, I was encouraged (fortunately!) by my attending physicians to learn to perform procedures for my patients. This was important, as I knew that I would be practicing medicine in my hometown in the southwestern corner of Virginia.

Our practice located in a rural setting and patients have no problem being seen by specialists for endoscopy, dermatology, wound care, and so on. The only problem is that these specialists are located at least 50 miles from my practice and the logistics of making this trip can be a burdensome prospect for some patients, especially the elderly.

During a routine follow up visit, my patients will frequently ask me, "...can you take a look at this mole?" If the skin lesion looks to be suspicious or has a worrisome history, I will simply ask the patient to come back to the office during the latter part of the day when I have a special time reserved for performing skin lesion biopsies, excisions, cryosurgery, etc. The majority of these lesions tend to be benign, however if I do encounter a non-melanoma skin cancer those can be easily excised and followed.

Primary care physicians also develop a high level of trust with their patients. One of the doctors that I shadowed when I was in college encouraged me to learn to perform endoscopic screening procedures, as he found it very difficult to convince the patients in our area to understand the importance of seeing a specialist for these procedures. I have found this to be the case and because I can perform these procedures personally, I have been successful in getting my patients to agree to having a routine screening colonoscopy or EGD. In our small rural town, the patients' usual answer is "...if you can't do it doc, I don't want to have it done."

For the past two to three years, my young female patients have continued to ask me about cosmetic procedures such as Botox and filler injections. As a result, I attended a CME course designed to properly educate and teach the art of such injections and incorporated it into my busy practice last year. The response has been overwhelming, as many patients that were previously taking a half day off from work and driving an hour to the dermatologist are now coming to my office for these procedures.

Incorporating procedures into a medical practice certainly cannot occur overnight. Physicians must ensure that they are proficient and must devote the needed amount of time for proper training.

Certainly the best time to start the preparation would be in a residency program, however, if you have already finished your training, there are several well-respected courses available for learning these procedures. Your patients will appreciate the opportunity to have such procedures performed in their medical home.

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