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The Importance Of General Practitioners In The Healthcare Sector

General practitioners (GPs) see patients of all ages from new-borns to teens and the elderly. GPs treat all common medical conditions and will refer patients to hospitals and other medical practices if they require urgent and specialist treatments. Their focus is on the holistic health of the person which combines all physical, psychological and social aspects.

General practitioners are often the first point of contact for those with physical or mental health problems. In many cases, patients are at their most anxious and GPs need to respond accordingly with a patient-centred approach. This is vital for all general practitioners as the relationships they can establish will most certainly help them provide continuity of care.

The Role Of General Practitioners

The role of general practitioners may vary between countries but the core duties remain similar – ensuring the holistic care of all patients including managing acute problems, chronic diseases and treating patients with multiple health conditions. In urban areas of developed countries, GPs are typically more focused on the following:

  • treating chronic health problems
  • the treatment of acute non-life-threatening diseases
  • early detection of illnesses or conditions
  • referring patients with serious conditions for specialist treatments
  • preventive care (this includes health education and immunisation)

However, general practitioners in rural areas of developed countries or developing countries are often involved in pre-hospital emergency care. They also deliver babies, perform community hospital care and less complex surgical procedures.

Related: ‘Role of the South African General Practitioner

GP Appointments And Common Medical Procedures

GP appointments may vary but it’s mostly scheduled to last approximately ten to fifteen minutes. During the consult, general practitioners must assess the patient based on symptoms and their medical history, past and present.

Considering the sheer number of conditions and illnesses a patient could present with, GPs need to be swift and decisive. They also tap into their vast knowledge to assess the likelihood of a patient suffering from a certain illness over another. GPs identify patterns of symptoms to indicate or rule out different conditions so they can prescribe the appropriate medication or specialist treatments.

What Are The Common Procedures Of General Practitioners?

General practitioners form part of large multidisciplinary teams who support the holistic care of all patients and include nurses, midwives, pharmacists, psychiatrists and specialists caring for the elderly.

GPs play an important role in managing a patient’s overall health and can perform several procedures. The most common are as follows:

  • clinical examinations of patients to assess, diagnose and monitor their condition
    carry out tests within the medical practice such as urine sample testing, assisting with diagnosis
  • interpret findings from investigations including blood tests
  • using basic life support skills
  • using emergency procedures where necessary such as defibrillation
  • minor surgical procedures

After identifying the illness or condition, GPs will advise on a certain course of action and prescribe medication. Alternatively, they may refer a patient for further tests to confirm a diagnosis or as part of an on-going management plan. This often involves specialist treatments which can be overly expensive and inaccessible to a large number of South Africans.

Medical Loans For Specialised Treatments

While many people do visit their GP for consultations, not everyone can afford specialist treatments which may be needed upon a doctor’s recommendation. That puts general practitioners and their patients in a challenging position as it could result in someone not getting a procedure or waiting too long.

Fortunately, MediFin can help by providing patients with affordable medical loans for specialist treatments. If you don’t have medical aid or the procedure is not covered as part of your scheme, MediFin’s personal medical loans can take care of it. From dental and hearing finance to loans for general surgery, pregnancy and fertility finance, MediFin is South Africa’s preferred choice.

Many GPs are already part of our network and can be found on our website under the “Find a Doctor” page. Simply enter your location, choose a category from the dropdown list and click on search. You will see a list of over 1,000 registered general practitioners in South Africa and other healthcare professionals.

How To Apply For A Medical Loan

MediFin’s application process can be done online fairly quickly and with relative ease. All you need to do is:

  1. Get a quote from your doctor or healthcare practitioner
  2. Apply online at
  3. Wait for approval (usually within an hour)
  4. On success, digitally sign loan agreement via email
  5. Payment is made directly to your healthcare provider

If you’re a GP and want to register on our website to help your patients gain access to affordable medical loans for specialised treatments, join our directory today.