Mark Wallace MD - Greeley
I wanted to become a family physician from a young age. It may seem strange for a child to know not only a profession but a specialty as well, yet I had a wonderful role model in my own doctor that started me on my path. I was a climber as a kid and inevitably I went to the general practitioner who treated my family often. As a young physician he made a tremendous impact on me to the extent that I never really considered the other specialties. He helped to shape my future choices – if not necessarily the immediate ones to stop climbing.
In my own practice I can relate to those children like myself as they come to see me for a wide range of issues, along with the rest of their families. I remember my own family doctor and try to treat the whole patient as he did. The breadth of what a family practice physician does is what continues to keep me energized about my specialty. Since I work with families and individuals over the course of a lifetime, I see an extensive variety of issues that continually challenge me to learn and improve. There is no hand off to another specialty for age so I get to stay with my patients and be inside the family unit looking at a patient in the context of the entire family.
Over my time in practice, I’ve had the privilege to meet a patient as a student and stay with them to deliver their own child and begin the cycle again. It is an honor to be a family’s trusted professional over such time.
It is especially important to me to maintain that involvement as we move forward into new models for the field of medicine. We are challenging the old model of care that used to include seeing patients in the office, their home or even a nursing home. Now we are beginning to practice medicine in a technical age over computers with email and other communication tools. We in the field of family medicine are just now getting to this place when so many other industries have accepted technology as an integral part of accomplishing these goals. But the new tools will make health care more accessible to the patients and engage them in their own care. We have not yet truly tapped in to the future, especially with the younger population.
In the next few years I look forward to better monitoring and caring for my patients. I see a time in the near future when I will be able to communicate with my diabetic patients and regularly check their blood sugar with direct links from their wireless devices. The advantages of monitoring the lung function of an asthmatic patient on any given day will improve their care. I will also be able to communicate with the team of professionals that care for a patient remotely and focus on prevention. These tools will allow us to stay ahead of the train of chronic disease and direct our attention around wellness.
Future applications from cell phones to gaming devices may have the ability to feed into EMR systems and even reward patients for their actions such as healthy eating and regular exercise. The medical industry needs to catch up to others and embrace this direction to become more efficient for everybody.