Medical & Health, Doctors-Medical Practitioners
There is nothing more important than your health and wellbeing, and managing and maintaining your health is really something every individual can become actively involved with. The common-sense basics of a healthy lifestyle are well publicised; good nutrition and regular exercise, however each individual’s needs differ, and such a generic approach may not address any particular health issues or lifestyle concerns. Generally a visit to your local general practitioner is a good start to getting your health on track, but you could also consider alternative health options that may be locally available to you.
There are strict guidelines to those wishing to practice medicine in Australia. A General Practitioner (GP) is a registered medical practitioner (doctor) who is qualified for general practice and can work anywhere in Australia. While there are similarities between GPs, there are also important differences. Let’s take a look at a few of these.
The practice of general medicine is the cornerstone of the healthcare system in Australia. In the past, anyone who had a medical degree could practice medicine and they often took additional training to extend their knowledge in certain areas, such as family planning. Over the years, general medicine has become more specialised as general practitioners or family doctors are increasingly managing more complicated medicine. It was only in 2010 that general practice was acknowledged by the Medical Board as a medical specialty.
Looking after your health is essential. Doctors are widely available and there are more than 23,000 registered general practitioners (GPs) around Australia. One way of finding a suitable doctor for you and your family is to ask your friends, other parents at your children’s school or colleagues in your work place. There might be a medical centre in your area where you can visit and ask about doctors and their services.
Every year thousands of Australians are struck down with a variety of flu viruses. Most people will recover quickly after taking a few days off work and with the help of over-the-counter medication, but for others the flu can be a serious illness. Those at a higher risk are the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions. For this reason many Australians choose to safeguard themselves and lower the risk of infection by having an annual flu vaccine.
Colds and the flu are common illnesses which share a range of similar symptoms but are actually caused by different virus strains. The length and severity of the symptoms will vary depending on the virus strain, and overall health of each individual.
Choosing a new General Practitioner (GP) or family doctor is an important decision and often a difficult task, especially if you have moved to a new area. We all look for different things in a doctor, and what’s important for you may not be to someone else. Work out your individual or family needs and write down a list of what you consider would be an ideal doctor for your situation. Some people will have the luxury of choosing between multiple practices in their area; others, particularly those living in remote areas, may find that their options are somewhat limited.
A general practitioner (GP) is usually the first doctor we see. They are medical practitioners who work in the community to provide primary health care for individuals and families. Sometimes they are known as the family doctor. They are experts in treating all kinds of people with many different health issues and problems throughout their bodies. If a GP thinks that a patient needs more informed treatment they will refer the patient to a specialist. A specialist is a doctor who focuses on a particular area of medicine such as the heart and blood vessels (cardiologist), pregnancy (obstetrician), musculoskeletal system (rheumatologist) etc.
Many people complain of having the flu when they actually only have a cold. The flu is a much more serious illness whereas the common cold rarely causes harm. The main difference between a common cold and the flu is they are caused by different viruses.
Your health is your most important asset and one you should look after with the greatest care and attention. Self-diagnosis for minor, isolated occurrences of conditions such as sore throats, mild coughs or minor stomach upsets is generally fine and can usually be effectively treated with over-the-counter medication from your local pharmacy. Self-diagnosis for more serious or long term conditions is unadvisable and unwise. Certain conditions can only be assessed by qualified medical consultants and medical testing.
Australia has a health care system called Medicare which gives all residents access to free or low-cost medical and hospital care, paid for by the Australian government. When a doctor allows the entire cost of a consultation or service to be paid for by Medicare, this is known as “bulk billing”.
HICAPS stands for Health Industry Claims and Payments Service. It is an electronic, instant claims and payments service. HICAPS covers most private health funds in Australia and a large number of healthcare professionals such as dentists, physiotherapists, optometrists, psychologists, chiropractors, osteopaths, podiatrists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, dietitians, remedial massage therapists, acupuncturists, naturopaths etc. You will need to be in a private health fund to be eligible to claim with HICAPS.