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‘We need to get better at marketing primary care’


Jolyon Attwooll


27/10/2023 3:55:16 PM

Professor Trish Greenhalgh told delegates at the WONCA World Conference that more needs to be done to address public and political perceptions.

Professor Trish Greenhalgh
Professor Trish Greenhalgh presented in front of a large audience at the WONCA World Conference.

The work of general practice is misunderstood and undervalued by politicians, the media and the public, according to leading general practice academic Professor Trish Greenhalgh.
 
Speaking at the WONCA World Conference in Sydney this week, the Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford said the profession needs to improve the way it is perceived – particularly the impact of the therapeutic relationship between GPs and their patients.
 
‘We in primary care need to get better at marketing ourselves,’ she said in response to a question from Host Organising Committee Chair and former RACGP President Adjunct Professor Karen Price.
 
Professor Greenhalgh gave the example of a former patient whom she had helped with regular homes visits when the woman was struggling with a very young baby.
 
‘If there had been no relationship-based care, that probably would have been a psychiatric admission, and probably some kind of issues with the mother–child relationship,’ Professor Greenhalgh said.  
 
‘We need to tell that kind of story to the politician and start … in crude financial terms [to calculate] what it would have cost if that had been a hospital admission.
 
‘I don’t think we do it very well to ourselves, let alone to the press and the public.’
 
She also cited one piece of research considering around 400 media articles, in which hospital doctors were represented in a more positive light than general practice.
 
The observation was part of a wide-ranging speech and Q&A Professor Greenhalgh made in front of thousands of family doctors from around the world.
 
Drawing on varied artistic, religious and literary references, she reflected on the suffering of general practice during the earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
‘I really worked my socks off, I got pretty burnt out … and I thought, “I’m not actually quite ready to move on from it”,’ she said.
 
Noting an ‘accelerating’ workforce crisis in primary care, Professor Greenhalgh said the contribution of GPs is typically not appreciated by those outside of the sector.
 
‘Our work is widely misunderstood and undervalued by politicians, by the press, by the public, and even sometimes by our secondary care colleagues,’ she said.
 
Consequently, the resources needed to do the job of general practice ‘are being squeezed year on year with no relief in sight’.
 
However, Professor Greenhalgh also looked to the future, saying she wished to plant the seeds of a few ideas for recovery.
 
‘I am not going to insult your intelligence by implying that there’s a quick fix here, you all know there isn’t,’ she said.
 
‘How can we move on in a positive way? How can we learn and grow from that suffering?
 
‘First and foremost, we need to reconnect with the core definition and values of primary healthcare.  
 
‘If we design and adapt our primary care systems to value and reward healing relationships, both we and our patients can begin to recover from a system that’s become perverse and inhumane.’
 
The British academic also sounded a sceptical note about over-using technology at the expense of time with patients.
 
‘The more frantically you … pursue technical solutions, the less time we have for meaningful contact with our patients, and the more exhausted we become,’ she said.
 
While stating that digital technologies have ‘an important place’ in healthcare – saying the use of technology ‘within the context of a therapeutic relationship’, can work ‘pretty well’ – Professor Greenhalgh described the rush to monetise patient data as ‘like the Wild West right now’.
 
‘It needs to be controlled and regulated,’ she said.
 
The power of that therapeutic alliance between GPs and their patients remained the dominant theme of the speech.
 
‘As healthcare becomes ever more complex and fragmented, communication and coordination becomes increasingly important,’ Professor Greenhalgh said.
 
‘And these functions depend crucially on the quality of human relationships.’
 
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funding primary care Professor Trish Greenhalgh


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newsGP weekly poll Which public health issue will most significantly impact general practice in Australia in the next 10–20 years?

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Dr Arthur Ho-Cheung Chiang   28/10/2023 8:41:10 AM

We need to employ and politician in our College. We need to expose to the public that it is the government impeding the rightful reward of general practitioners who save the government and better healthcare. I always tell my patients to talk to our local parliament representatives. Of course more to be done. That is what our politician employee can do more.


Dr Henare Renata Broughton   28/10/2023 9:35:25 AM

The critical comments from the Primary Care Academic from Oxford is likely to have been made directed to the fragmented NHC. Here in Australia any marketing strategy that is well structured is likely to be achievable by innovative approaches which can be measured. A recent webinar hosted by the College suggested made no references to innovation


Dr Mainul Islam Zubair Hossain   28/10/2023 10:32:32 AM

The main issue is that Medcine used to be a "noble profession". But now it is "Health INDUSTRY".
Everything is given a value and our mindset is to recuperate the effort given to a certain action, whether it's about holding a hand or giving advice or writing a script.
And then we get overwhelmed by greed to get more, make more! Moderation with everything is the key word, I think.
Like the use of modern day technology. InformationTechnology has definitely given us access to this wide ocean of knowledge that we can access with the press of a button. We are using it for the betterment of our knowledge, thereby giving better care to our patients. But with moderation of course. Sometimes we forget to touch our patients even for the sake of checking the pulse, missing the great opportunity to pick up irregularities even before they become a symptom. Thereby we are losing the "human touch" effect.


Dr Abdul Ahad Khan   28/10/2023 11:44:25 AM

First & Foremost, we need to have SELF-RESPECT .
SELF-RESPECT is not dependent on what the Politicians perceive about us.
We can lift up our SELF RESPECT by doing 3 things :
1. Do HIGH QUALITY WORK
2. CHARGE AN APPROPRIATE FEES, commensurate with our Qualifications / Training / Expertise.
3. Stop sucking up to Politicians.
4. Stop Bulk-billing one & all.

The Medicare Rebate by the Govt. is meant for the Patient as a Subsidy for the Fees that we charge .
When our Patients feel that this Medicare Subsidy is too little, a CRY will emanate from our Patients. - the Populace.
We GPs constitute less that 1 % of the Total Populace - no Govt. will care a damn about a CRY from us.
Essentially the CRY has to emanate from our Patients - more than 99% of the Total Populace - their CRY will be heard by Politicians from all Parties !
They will try to outbid each other i n promising an increase in the Medicare Rebate !
DR. AHAD KHAN


Dr Edward Thomas Wu   28/10/2023 1:51:12 PM

Here is someone saying the obvious but this seems to get lost in the "academia" obsessed with and imprisoned by its worship of quantified research data.

Professor Greenhalgh said:

‘First and foremost, we need to reconnect with the core definition and values of primary healthcare - from primitive society to modern equivalent. 

The power of that therapeutic alliance between GPs and their patients

‘And these functions depend crucially on the quality of human relationships.’

‘As healthcare becomes ever more complex and fragmented, communication and coordination becomes increasingly important,’

The recent "Definition" and "Scope" of General Practice" exercise don't seem to catch these points.


Dr Abdul Ahad Khan   30/10/2023 11:42:58 AM

Prof. Greenhalgh refers to :
" The power of that therapeutic alliance between GPs and their patients. "
This Therapeutic Alliance between GPs & their Patients has been completely DESTROYED .
General Practice has been FRAGMENTED, by the entrance of Allied Health Professionals being encouraged to wear the Shoes of a FAMILY DOCTOR.
The Allied Health Professionals do not have the ESSENTIAL MBBS Degree & the ESSENTIAL INTENSIVE CLINICAL TRAINING to become a SAFE FAMILY DOCTOR.

What exactly is the RACGP doing to stop this ??????
The RACGP will do nothing, as the Paymaster ( the Govt. ) has made them into Slaves, who will dare not open their mouths, for fear of losing their Grandiose Salaries.
DR. AHAD KHAN