By Dr. Karen Andrews

Karen Andrews, MD

Providing quality health care goes much deeper than diagnosing an illness and prescribing the appropriate medication or therapy. Yes, those are important elements in providing exceptional care. But that care is built on a foundation of trust and familiarity. It starts with a relationship, hopefully one that lasts for years.

In medicine we call this relationship continuity of care. It’s a physician-led, team-based approach to health care with the patient at the core of that relationship. In fact, the patient is a member of the team. But a patient and physician form this team approach only after establishing a relationship, one that’s formed through regular visits that occur hopefully over a space of years.

No matter where you go for your health care, it’s best that it’s with someone you trust. I encourage everyone who comes to Harbor of Health for medical treatment to not make it his or her only visit. Yes, we’re happy to see you in a pinch. But as family medicine providers, we want to have a relationship with you.

Dr. Karen Andrews sees patients at our Harbor of Health location in Downtown Memphis.

Cultivating relationships with a patient takes time, but it’s possible. We want to advocate for our patients. That advocacy is a more possible goal when there is a long-term partnership between provider and patient. In this partnership the physician knows the patient’s history and can better make informed decisions about care.

These relationships are especially important for patients dealing with numerous complications. As a physician, I want to provide the best possible care for my patients. And if I have a relationship with that patient I have a better understanding of his or her situation.

We hope that when we see people that we see them again to continue on that path to good health together. When I treat someone we can follow up in future visits, whether it’s an acute problem or she has multiple issues. And when I see new patients I hope they decide to stay with us at Harbor of Health.

This approach is ideal for patients but it’s also important for me as a physician. I’m not interested in passing off people to other providers. I want to spend time with a patient. If I see 20 patients in a day and if all 20 are new, it takes time to get to know those people. And if half of them have multiple chronic conditions, they’re not going to get as good of care if we don’t have an established relationship already.

Sure, there are instances when someone visits a doctor and it’s clearly a one-time occurrence. Maybe he’s in town on vacation or here for a business meeting, gets sick and needs to visit a doctor. I want to encourage him to schedule an appointment so he can get back to his best health as quickly as possible.

But ideally if you live here we hope you will continue to come back to Harbor of Health for your primary medicine care. And if you’re in need of a new doctor, consider establishing a relationship with our team at Harbor of Health or one of our other locations. Maybe you’ve had a 20-year relationship with a doctor, but she recently retired or dropped your insurance. Please don’t visit multiple emergency rooms and urgent care centers. Establish a continuity of care relationship with a primary care physician.

Dr. Karen Andrews, MD, concentrates on internal medicine and pediatrics services at Regional One Health and is a physician at Harbor of Health. To make an appointment with Dr. Andrews, please call 901-515-4200 or visit Harbor of Health is located at 718 Harbor Bend Road in Harbor Town in Downtown Memphis.