Specialization in medicine is a branch of medical practice. After completing medical schools physicians or surgeons usually further their medical education in a specific specialty of medicine by completing a multiple year residency to become a medical specialist. To a certain extent, medical practitioners have always been specialized. According to Aelius Galenus (Greek philosopher, physician and surgeon) specialization was common among Roman physicians. The particular system of modern medical specialities evolved gradually during the 19th century though informal social recognition of medical specialization evolved before the formal legal system.
and what not to, patients when spending out of their pockets are looking not just for a simple medical professional who owns a MBBS or MD degree but they go with the highest degree holders in the particular disease. This predilection in the mind-sets of the patients has not only been compelling resident doctors and physician to go for specialization but also shunned the corner clinics of general physicians which were the most prevalent source of medical care not too long ago.
So, it implies that “GP” and “specialist” are two diametrically opposed alternatives, and that GP is the lessor of the two. If you’re smart, ambitious, passionate and successful you become a specialist. If you can’t get into anything else, or if you want the easy option, you become a GP. It’s seen as a back-up option, not as a worthwhile career in itself.
The specialist vs. “just a GP” dichotomy also perpetuates the idea that GP’s are not “experts” in their own right, or that GP’s are sort of amateur doctors who do the easy bits of all the other specialties and then refer on the patients to “specialists,” when things get too complicated for them to handle.
However, while we are looking for specialized doctors, the trend in the United States is completely opposite. The country is now short of approximately 9,000 primary care doctors. These are the general internists, family doctors, geriatricians and general paediatricians. These doctors are responsible for diagnosing new illnesses, managing chronic ones, advocating preventive care and protecting wellness. What is alarming is the prediction of health care leaders according to whom the deficit will worsen dramatically over the next one and a half decades. Specialties like general surgery, neurosurgery and emergency medicine will also become critically understaffed; but primary care will be hardest hit, with a shortfall of more than 65,000 doctors during this period.
Whys and Whereofs for Multi-Specialty Hospitals
Similarly, there was a time when patients visited nursing homes for better care but today a multi-specialty hospital nurtures a milieu of collaboration among many physicians and different specialties under one roof. It offers advantages of housing the best clinician talent across specialties on one hand and the best technology and medical care under one roof on the other.
Multi-specialty hospitals are superior in delivering higher medical quality and offer both depth and width in the healthcare sector by allowing hospitals to
provide a continuum of care. These hospitals have come of age and are capable of delivering medical treatments at par with the best in the world. Now, Indians are not going abroad for treatment but patients from overseas are pouring in as India offers affordable and high quality healthcare. Though capital intensive, the model confers significant advantages in terms of cross referrals, attending to emergencies and offering the best clinical talent under one roof, aiding patient ease and comfort. Moreover, as a country we are plagued by several lifestyle disorders which require a multi-disciplinary care. In any multi-specialty hospital, different departments and specialties are located under one roof as a result of which a patient can consult different doctors of different specialties easily. Another advantage is that a doctor from a particular specialty is readily available should a complication arise during the course of treatment of a particular illness. This particularly holds true while treating patients from abroad who would be scared of visiting different hospitals for different complaints.
Even understanding the demand for quality healthcare services, the government is encouraging private nvestments for building medical infrastructure with advanced treatment facilities. Such measures, though, have still not benefited all the people across the country but the process of pursuing corporate hospital chains to set-up facilities in the country is going on. But that poses a unique dilemma to the health policy makers of the country. How does a country where more than two third of population does not have decent primary healthcare available at comfortable proximity, manage to further super specialized doctors and multi speciality hospitals to ensure that the benefits of speciality spills over to those sections of the society too who can not afford to splurge on such specialities. This is crucial for ensuring a system where benefit of knowledge is not privy to rich and mighty.