Originally published in The Tennessean, January 2020
When I take a road trip, I enjoy traveling with my son. He helps me find the best route, check my blind spots, pick locations along the way he knows we’ll both find interesting, and we always have meaningful conversations. When it comes to your health, think of your primary care provider (PCP) as a trusted road-trip partner, or the best possible navigator you could have along for the ride.
My colleague Dr. Ian Bushell recently made an analogy that really stuck with me: “Be open and honest with your PCP, and work together on your roadmap to optimal health and wellbeing.” The key element there is planning.
Too often I hear stories of our members whose first interaction with a BlueCross nurse reflects an advanced condition but no claims history, meaning they may not have been getting the preventive or maintenance care they needed.
These stories could be different if the patient had been seeing a PCP regularly.
Commit to your journey
When you’re feeling healthy, you may not feel the need for a relationship with a PCP — who needs directions when you’re not even lost? But a PCP can help you see how family history can put you into a category that requires more attention to help you stay healthy. Family history of early heart disease, colon cancer, or breast cancer should be motivators for scheduling regular visits and screenings even in the absence of any symptoms.
Part of ensuring a successful primary care visit is knowing what to ask. Whether you’re scheduling an appointment for a sick visit, a wellness check or physical, a nagging pain, a flu shot, etc., remember to ask these recommended questions every time you see your PCP:
- Do I need bloodwork today? When can I get the results?
- Do I need any vaccinations or other tests?
- What preventive health screenings should I schedule?
- Does my family history indicate I should watch for specific conditions?
Families can use the answers to these questions to help create roadmaps for future generations.
Reach your destination
Our job is to help you get the right care — safe and proven to be effective based on a consensus of evidence — at the best possible prices.
Part of this job is equipping our members with tools and resources to allow their primary care journey to be as smooth as possible.
In 2019, for example, we launched a digital care management tool that allows members to interact one-on-one — and on their schedules — with our care managers, many of whom are trained nurses. These care managers help steer our members toward the types of providers they need to see, especially PCPs. We are also making changes to the Find Care tool on our website, to help members see how PCPs in our commercial networks perform against certain quality metrics and commit to value-based care.
Beyond that, we continue to invest with our existing partners statewide – and establish relationships with new ones – to help make primary care more accessible and convenient.
As a mission-driven health plan, our members’ health is our top priority. And that priority begins with helping you get the primary care you need, and truly find reward in your journeys as well as your destinations.