Colonoscopy? Tetanus shot? Mammogram?
With changes to health guidelines, it can be difficult to know if and when you need a preventive screening or vaccine. That’s where having a relationship with a primary care doctor can help.
“The health care system is pretty complex and if you have a relationship with a primary care doctor it enhances your care and helps to give you access to the care treatment you need,” says Dr. Julie Blehm, a primary care physician.
Your primary health care provider stays abreast of current guidelines. They can recommend and order appropriate screening or vaccine, as well as decide when you need additional testing. What’s more, they can treat most chronic disease and decide when you need see a specialist.
Having someone to coordinate your care is important. For example, if you have chronic diseases such as diabetes and coronary heart disease, your primary health care provider can manage your care and if necessary coordinate care with other specialists. They will make sure you— as a patient—understand what is being done and recommended.
Your annual exam is a good time to discuss your health care needs, concerns, goals and fears with your primary care provider. Based on your age, family history and risk factors, they may recommend the following preventive screenings:
- Pap smear
- Hepatitis C
- Lung cancer
- Blood glucose
If you have questions about which screenings are covered, please contact Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota at 1-800-342-4718.
Denise Pinkney is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.