Why a GP solution?
General practitioners are at the forefront of the provision of primary medical care in Australia and have enormous potential to encourage patients to take greater responsibility for their health. Through a range of proven strategies, GPs may be able to influence patients to:
- change their lifestyle6
- undergo screening for the early detection of a range of conditions7
- present for health protecting vaccinations8
- manage chronic conditions to improve quality of life.9
General practitioners and their professional associations (The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners [RACGP], the Australian Medical Association [AMA], the Rural Doctors’ Association of Australia, and others) are aware of this potential. However, their ability to fulfil this preventive role is heavily constrained by factors including the workforce shortages in many outer metropolitan, rural and remote areas, and financial incentives and arrangements that do not enhance quality service.10
Evidence suggests that work pressures, lack of a supportive infrastructure and time constraints make it difficult for GPs to maintain a current working knowledge of effective and evidence based prevention. This underlies the problems of instituting early intervention strategies and utilising these strategies in daily practice.