Working with Your Physician and Hospital

Your Partners in Health

An objective of your primary care physician (PCP) is to help you "manage" your health so that you receive appropriate care in an appropriate setting. Having a PCP allows one physician to work closely with you to keep you healthy, reduce your risk for illness and coordinate your care. Once you select a primary care physician, you should schedule a "well" visit to help your physician establish a healthy "norm" for you. Then you should be sure to schedule regular medical exams so that your physician has your comprehensive medical history. This will help your physician facilitate the best possible treatment if you become ill. Your physician will recommend specific tests, immunizations and exams based on your stage of life and his or her assessment of your risks for certain diseases or conditions. Each person is different and your doctor is the best person to determine which tests are best for you. 

For adults, however, some of these tests may include:

Ages 18 to 39

  • Annual blood pressure checks. You may also consider checking your blood pressure more frequently at health fairs, screenings, etc. If the systolic number (top number) is greater than 130 or the diastolic number (bottom number) is greater than 85, you should contact your primary care physician.
  • Physical exams as recommended by your doctor. During these exams, your doctor will check your height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, heart, lungs, extremities, reflexes and skin.
  • Annual dental exams and cleaning.
  • Eye exams every two years.
  • Tetanus-diptheria boosters every 10 years.
Women only:
  • Annual pelvic exam and pap smear to check for cervical cancer and other disorders. During this exam, your doctor will also examine your neck, breasts, and abdomen.
  • Monthly breast self-exams.
Men only:
  • Monthly testicular self-exams. 

Ages 40 to 65

  • Annual blood pressure checks. You may also consider checking your blood pressure more frequently at health fairs, screenings, etc. If the systolic number (top number) is greater than 130 or the diastolic number (bottom number) is greater than 85, you should contact your primary care physician.
  • Physical exams as recommended by your doctor. During these exams, your doctor will check your height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, heart, lungs, rectum, extremities, reflexes and skin.
  • Annual dental exams and cleanings.
  • Eye exams every two years, plus a tonometry to check for glaucoma beginning at age 45.
  • Annual fecal occult blood test.
  • Sigmoidoscopy every 3 to 5 years beginning at age 50. Patients at high risk for colon cancer (those with long-standing ulcerative colitis, prior colorectal cancer, prior large colorectal adenomas and strong family histories of colon cancer) should be screened periodically with colonoscopy.
  • Annual flu vaccine beginning at age of 50.
  • Tetanus-diptheria boosters every 10 years.
Women only:
  • Annual pelvic exam and pap smear to check for cervical cancer and other disorders. During this exam, your doctor will also examine your neck, breasts, and abdomen
  • Annual mammograms to check for breast cancer beginning at age 40.
  • Monthly breast self-exams.
Men only:
  • Annual rectal exam to check for colorectal cancer and prostate cancer beginning at age of 50.
  • Monthly testicular self-exams. 

AGES 65 And OLDER

  • Annual blood pressure checks. You may also consider checking your blood pressure more frequently at health fairs, screenings, etc. If the systolic number (top number) is greater than 130 or the diastolic number (bottom number) is greater than 85, you should contact your primary care physician.
  • Annual physical exams. During these exams, your doctor will check your height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, heart, lungs, rectum, extremities, reflexes, mouth and throat, neck, breasts/armpit areas, abdomen and skin. Plus, according to current Medicare regulations, you may be eligible for a physical exam and other preventive screenings for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. For more information, contact our Health Resource Center at 1-888-432-5464.
  • Annual hearing tests.
  • Annual dental exams and cleanings.
  • Eye exams every two years, plus a tonometry to check for glaucoma.
  • Annual fecal occult blood test.
  • Sigmoidoscopy every 3 to 5 years. Patients at high risk for colon cancer (those with long-standing ulcerative colitis, prior colorectal cancer, prior large colorectal adenomas and strong family histories of colon cancer) should be screened periodically with colonoscopy.
  • Annual urinalysis.
  • Annual flu vaccine.
  • Pneumonia vaccine (pneumococcal vaccine - polyvalent).
  • Tetanus-diptheria boosters every 10 years.
  • If you are in relevant high-risk groups, your doctor may give you immunizations for measles, mumps, rubella (MMR); hepatitis B; influenza; and pneumococcal pneumonia.
  • Annual flu vaccine beginning at age of 50.
  • Tetanus-diptheria boosters every 10 years.

Selected Definitions

  • Hospitalist: A physician who specializes in caring for patients in the hospital. Hospitalists do not have an outpatient medical practice - their work is solely dedicated to caring for patients in the hospital.
  • Independent Practice Association (IPA): An organized form of prepaid medical practice in which participating physicians remain in the independent office settings, seeing both enrollees of the IPA and private patients. Participating physicians may be reimbursed by the IPA on a fee-for-service or a capitation basis.
  • Open Enrollment: A period of time when consumers can change their medical coverage elections, usually set by the health plan or employer. During an open enrollment process, a health insurance plan must accept all who apply during a specific period each year.
  • Primary Care: Basic or general health care focused on the point at which a patient ideally first seeks assistance from the medical care system. Primary care is considered comprehensive when the primary provider takes responsibility for the overall coordination of the care of the patient's biological, behavioral or social health problems.
  • Primary Care Provider (PCP): A family practitioner, internal medicine physician (internist), pediatrician, or obstetrician/gynecologist who provides primary care services. These physicians are qualified to care for most of your health care needs. If a specialist is needed, the primary care physician will refer you to the most appropriate specialist.
  • Screenings: Medical exams, interviews, and laboratory tests your doctor gives you when you have no signs or symptoms of disease.
  • Specialist: A physician specially trained in a certain branch of medicine related to specific services or procedures, age categories of patients, body systems, or diseases. Specialists usually have advanced education and training related to their specialties.
  • "Well" Visits: During a well visit, screenings that can be vitally important to your health and peace of mind are performed. These visits can reassure you that you show no signs or are at low risk for specific health problems. They can also tell you if you have subclinical or hidden signs of a disease. By diagnosing a problem at an early stage, your physician can intervene when your illness is easier and less expensive to treat...and when you are more likely to enjoy a full recovery. Finally, health screenings can help your doctor identify risk-factors related to certain illnesses and give you the counseling, monitoring and (possibly) treatment you need to help you avoid developing those illnesses.

Ages 65 and Older

  • Annual blood pressure checks. You may also consider checking your blood pressure more frequently at health fairs, screenings, etc. If the systolic number (top number) is greater than 130 or the diastolic number (bottom number) is greater than 85, you should contact your primary care physician.
  • Annual physical exams. During these exams, your doctor will check your height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, heart, lungs, rectum, extremities, reflexes, mouth and throat, neck, breasts/armpit areas, abdomen and skin. Plus, according to current Medicare regulations, you may be eligible for a physical exam and other preventive screenings for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. For more information, contact our Health Resource Center at 1-888-432-5464.
  • Annual hearing tests.
  • Annual dental exams and cleanings.
  • Eye exams every two years, plus a tonometry to check for glaucoma.
  • Annual fecal occult blood test.
  • Sigmoidoscopy every 3 to 5 years. Patients at high risk for colon cancer (those with long-standing ulcerative colitis, prior colorectal cancer, prior large colorectal adenomas and strong family histories of colon cancer) should be screened periodically with colonoscopy.
  • Annual urinalysis.
  • Annual flu vaccine.
  • Pneumonia vaccine (pneumococcal vaccine - polyvalent).
  • Tetanus-diptheria boosters every 10 years.
  • If you are in relevant high-risk groups, your doctor may give you immunizations for measles, mumps, rubella (MMR); hepatitis B; influenza; and pneumococcal pneumonia.
  • Annual flu vaccine beginning at age of 50.
  • Tetanus-diptheria boosters every 10 years.

Selected Definitions

  • Hospitalist: A physician who specializes in caring for patients in the hospital. Hospitalists do not have an outpatient medical practice - their work is solely dedicated to caring for patients in the hospital.
  • Independent Practice Association (IPA): An organized form of prepaid medical practice in which participating physicians remain in the independent office settings, seeing both enrollees of the IPA and private patients. Participating physicians may be reimbursed by the IPA on a fee-for-service or a capitation basis.
  • Open Enrollment: A period of time when consumers can change their medical coverage elections, usually set by the health plan or employer. During an open enrollment process, a health insurance plan must accept all who apply during a specific period each year.
  • Primary Care: Basic or general health care focused on the point at which a patient ideally first seeks assistance from the medical care system. Primary care is considered comprehensive when the primary provider takes responsibility for the overall coordination of the care of the patient's biological, behavioral or social health problems.
  • Primary Care Provider (PCP): A family practitioner, internal medicine physician (internist), pediatrician, or obstetrician/gynecologist who provides primary care services. These physicians are qualified to care for most of your health care needs. If a specialist is needed, the primary care physician will refer you to the most appropriate specialist.
  • Screenings: Medical exams, interviews, and laboratory tests your doctor gives you when you have no signs or symptoms of disease.
  • Specialist: A physician specially trained in a certain branch of medicine related to specific services or procedures, age categories of patients, body systems, or diseases. Specialists usually have advanced education and training related to their specialties.
  • "Well" Visits: During a well visit, screenings that can be vitally important to your health and peace of mind are performed. These visits can reassure you that you show no signs or are at low risk for specific health problems. They can also tell you if you have subclinical or hidden signs of a disease. By diagnosing a problem at an early stage, your physician can intervene when your illness is easier and less expensive to treat...and when you are more likely to enjoy a full recovery. Finally, health screenings can help your doctor identify risk-factors related to certain illnesses and give you the counseling, monitoring and (possibly) treatment you need to help you avoid developing those illnesses.