Let's talk about coordination of care. In the last post, I mentioned how your primary care physician (PCP) is the one who serves as the central point of coordination for your care. He/she should have any information from specialist visits and from any testing that may have been ordered by another doctor. Youhave a role in maintaining this flow of information. One opportunity for this occurs when you have a test such as a CT scan or a x-ray ordered by another physician. The ordering physician is the one who will receive the report findings of the test. At the time you are providing your history and giving consent for the ordered procedure, there will be a place on the forms asking if the test results should be sent to any other physicians. This is your opportunity and responsibility to facilitate the flow of information to your PCP. Always add your PCP to this list of recipients assuring that not only the specialist will get the results but also to your central point of coordination. By doing this consistently, your doctor has the ability and information to adequately identify any patterns that may need to be addressed.
Your consciousness of this is more important now than ever in the past. Most insurance plans today do not require a referral from a PCP for a specialist visit. All you need to do is make an appointment. If the specialist does not include your PCP with the findings of the examination and any tests, your PCP may never know of the specialist visit. There will be a gap in information and potentially in care. Ask the specialist to send a copy of the assessment and findings to your PCP. You may want to ask for a copy also. The days of the patient not being knowledgeable of the doctor's records are gone. You can then make sure your PCP does indeed have copies of your information.
Another area that needs your action to assure information flow is with your preventive care tests. An example is a mammogram. There is often no need for a physician referral for a yearly screening mammogram. If you do not identify the physicians to receive a report, your PCP may never know you had it done. Consider this aspect of your coordination of care any time you have a health care experience. You can always check with firstname.lastname@example.org if you need assistance with any aspect of care flow.