While some patients often think of preventive screenings for young and healthy individuals, much of our recommended screenings happen later in life. For older patients (50 and up) there is much to discuss when it comes to what screenings are appropriate for them. Unfortunately, in traditional primary care settings where visit times are quite short, these conversations rarely happen. Typically, a doctor tells a patient what to get and when without much discussion on personal preference, risk, age, family and personal history, etc. While not the best way to maintain a good doctor-patient relationship, this also often leads to over screening, as reported in a recent NY Times article.
While organizations like the United States Preventive Task Force have standard guidelines, it is certainly a not one size fits all answer. For instance:
When should you start mammogram screening?
Is a colonoscopy the only option for colon cancer screening?
How often do women need pap smears?
Should men be screened for prostate cancer at all?
Who should be screened for Hepatitis C?
What does skin cancer screening entail?
Screening labs also come up in our discussions with patients. And lastly, the topic that often gets pushed to the side when time is an issue during primary care visits… lifestyle changes! This should be the bulk of preventive conversations between patients and their primary care doctor. Nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, mindfulness, etc are all huge parts of overall health and long lasting healthy living and should be the cornerstone of any primary care practice.
So, for those patients looking for direct access too, and a great relationship with, their primary care doctor, definitely look for a Direct Primary Care practice near you. For patients in Rhode Island, please check out Direct Doctors. We’d love to spend time learning about you and discussing the things that can best keep you healthy!
Lauren Hedde, DO; James Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Co- Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.