THE ROLE OF MEDICAL SCHOOL FAMILY PRACTICE UNITS IN HEALTH CARE DELIVERY: EXPERIENCE IN DEGİRMENDERE
Objective: To study the role of Medical School Family Practice Units in health care service provision and to investigate by which patients will they be preferred.
Method: During a 5 month period, patients who visited Degirmendere Family Practice Unit for the first time were included in the study. A questionnaire was applied to all patients, inquiring about their socio-demographic features; their reasons for visit; where they would have gone if the family practice unit was not in service, their chronic conditions and follow-up status.
Results: 197 patients (mean age 48.9±18.2 years, 70.6% female) were questionned. Most of them lived in Değirmendere (91.9%) and 87.3% had their health expenditures covered by their health insurance. Reasons for visit in 68.0% of the encounters were clinical complaints, whereas 27.9% were for check-up or follow-up of chronic conditions. 65% of the patients would have consulted a secondary or a tertiary care facility and 18.3% would not have gone anywhere at all, if the Family Practice Unit were not in service. 67.5% percent of the patients had at least one chronic condition, however, 60.2% of them were not regularly followed by a physician. 87.2% of the patients with follow-up, were under supervision of a secondary or tertiary health care facility.
Conclusion: There is a certain part of the community, whose unsatisfied health care needs might be met by the University Family Practice Units. These units may be preferred by those who choose secondary or tertiary care facilities for regular care. Increasing the number of Family Practice Units and similar facilities in Teaching Hospitals, may fill a gap in health care services, besides providing educational and research possibilities.