Practice communities originally mean close collaboration of several (at least five) GP and GP Pediatrician services. Recently, these services have been complemented with the cooperation of other healthcare specialists and special services whose purpose is to help preserving the residents’ health contributing to a longer healthy life and to decrease the burden of disease.
Nowadays, health-related prevention has been becoming more and more important in which practice communities have a special role. Aside from ensuring medical care for the patients, the aim of the practice communities is to help people with chronic diseases and lifestyle risk factors to achieve improvement in their health condition. They focus on problems such as obesity, dietary problems and sedentary lifestyle, also they help people with addictions, too.
These special services of the primary care are usually provided with the help of dieticians, physiotherapists, psychologists, health visitors, and in some cases physiotherapy assistants.
The formation of practice communities
Practice communities are formed based on the mutual collaboration of primary care specialists who provide traditional medical care, ensure GP emergency services and promote health development and health educational programs.
The 53/2021. (II. 9.) Government Decree about practice communities applies to:
- GP Pediatricians,
- GP service providers,
- practice managers.
The purpose of practice communities
Aside from providing medical care, the purpose of practice communities is to improve the quality of local medical services, the health condition of the residents, and to increase their health consciousness.
The most important practice community services:
- providing care for people with chronic diseases,
- engaging in prevention programs,
- lifestyle counseling,
- organized and personalized screening programs,
- health promotion and development at public events
The advantages of practice communities
If the patient goes to see their GP with their complaint (before referring the patient to an inpatient facility) the GP can discuss the patient’s case with other members in the same practice community or they can refer the patient to another specialist in the practice community for further medical evaluation. Hence, the patient can receive the appropriate medical care within the scope of primary care, that they could only access within the scope of second level of medical care earlier.
The first advantage is that this way the patient will get a more direct and faster medical service, the second is that the screening programs might decrease the burden on the other levels of the health care system – including in- and outpatient services.
The greatest advantages of practice communities:
- With the help of specialists, organized prevention programs and nursing care is available for the patients, thereby extending the time the GPs can actually spend with treating the patients.
- A specialist who works also as a GP can avail their specialist expertise when providing medical care for the patient, thereby decreasing the burden on the higher levels of the health care system.
- Doctors in practice communities can consult the more difficult cases with each other, thereby making better medical decisions.
- There is an increasing range of services provided within the primary care.
- The integration improves service availability and provides quality improvement.
- Improves the efficacy of services.
- The doctors can purchase collaboratively medical equipment and the workload will be more even for doctors and assistants.
Special services provided by practice communities
Practice communities provide unified services regarding setting up the diagnosis, providing treatment and medical care, preserving health condition. They also encompass the necessary logistics.
The most important special services of practice communities:
- preventive programs – knowing their patients’ health conditions and the possible risk factors arising from their lifestyle, the GPs can provide personalized medical services for them in order to get further medical evaluation;
- lifestyle counseling – helping to create a health-conscious lifestyle in order to decrease or seize the risk factors (e.g., smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, stress) of different diseases;
- Employing specialists who participate in preventive programs and nursing care in practice communities, not in separate practices, is more cost-effective;
- Health promotion and development at public events – by organizing different events, residents can more actively be involved in health-related activities in order to improve their health-consciousness;
- providing care for patients with chronic diseases – special services for patients under the GPs care: services for diabetic patients, physiotherapy, help for people with alcohol addiction and dietary problems.
The different forms of practice communities
According to the 53/2021. (II. 9.) Government Decree, a practice community can exist in one of the following forms:
- united practice community,
- integrated practice community,
- practice community consortium.
United practice communities are close, work-related, and economical collaborations between GP services working within the same area in which all GP services are provided by the same health care service provider in order to provide organized primary care.
Integrated practice communities are close, work-related, and economical collaborations between GP services working within the same area in which the GPs or the GP service providing health care service providers preserving their autonomy, mutually created a health care service provider in order to provide organized primary care.
Practice community consortiums are close, work-related, and economical collaborations between GP services working within the same area in which the GP service providing health care service providers preserving their autonomy, created a consortium collaboration contract in order to provide organized primary care. The members appoint a consortium leader who represents the consortium.