What is the difference between family medicine and general internal medicine?

Medical terminology can be confusing, to patients as well as to providers. Even the descriptions of certain medical practices can be used interchangeably, and incorrectly, without some clarification. Primary care physicians generally fall into one of two categories, they are either in a family practice or they practice internal medicine. What’s the difference?

Essentially, a primary care physician in a family medicine practice sees patients of all ages, treating adults and children alike. The family care physician also treats men and women for conditions specific to each sex. As the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) states, family medicine “encompasses all ages, both sexes, each organ system and every disease entity.”

Family medicine is a relatively recent designation. First used in the 1960s, it was officially recognized as a medical specialty in 1969. Although the majority of medical students still tend to choose other specialties within internal medicine, the number of primary care physicians in family medicine has been showing an increase in recent years.

Internal medicine is more focused than family medicine. The primary care physician practicing internal medicine sees only adults, for diagnosis and treatment. To complicate the clarification a bit, even though primary care physicians can practice general internal medicine, not all internal medicine is primary care. There are many subspecialties within internal medicine, including primary care as well as cardiology, endocrinology, and geriatric medicine, to name just a few.

Elation Health supports the primary care physician in both family medicine and internal medicine. Our focus is on providing the tools the independent physician needs to provide quality healthcare for their patients in an efficient and effective manner. Our electronic health record (EHR) solution is designed and developed to be an interactive, intelligent, and more predictive tool, allowing physicians to collaborate and coordinate care for the best possible patient outcomes.