Eastside Health Network Blog
Get to Know Your Primary Care Provider
If you want to optimize your health, you should stay active, eat healthy, and prioritize mental health. But another important step toward overall health is building a relationship with a Primary Care Provider (PCP). A strong relationship with a PCP can help you:
- Manage chronic conditions, including mental health issues
- Assess your personal risk for future disease based on lifestyle and family history
- Save time when scheduling routine appointments, like visits for vaccinations or suspected sinus infectsions
- Be known--your PCP knows your history and can cater care to you and your unique needs! You won't need to explain your health history at the start of every appointment!
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that people who regularly see a PCP experience significantly higher quality of care than people who do not. People with an established PCP were more likely to fill prescribed medication and were more likely to schedule preventative care visits. They also rated their care higher on a variety of satisfaction scores. People with an established PCP were also more likely to receive important cancer screenings.
Because this is an ongoing relationship, i's important to find not just any PCP but the right PCP for you. If you want help in this process, call Eastside Health Network navigators at 800.676.1411, option 1.
Mammogram Recommendations Can be Confusing!
Did You Know that Colorectal Screening Should Begin at Age 45?
If you’re 45 or older, it’s time to get screened for colorectal cancer.
Regular screening allows doctors to find and remove abnormal cells before they turn into cancer.
The US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends all adults age 45 to 49 talk to their providers about colorectal cancer screening.
The USPSTF recommends all adults ages 50 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer, regardless of family history or symptoms. Adults 45 to 49 should talk to their providers and be screened if they have family history of colorectal cancer or have any symptoms of the disease.
Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States. Over 10% of new colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed in people under 50, which is why recommendations have recently changed to included people 45 to 49.
Now is a great time to see your Primary Care Physician (PCP). Covid numbers are down, and your provider is ready for preventative appointments. That includes cancer screening.
Cancer screenings are important, even if you feel healthy. These tests can even detect cancer early before you feel any symptoms.
To schedule an appointment, call your (PCP). If you you need help finding a PCP, call Eastside Health Network at 800.676.1411, option 1.
Happy Birthday EHN!
EHN staff celebrate our birthday!
Eastside Health Network was founded on February 24, 2017.
In that time we've grown from two employees to over 30. We began with scattered office space. Our Chief Administrative Officer David LeMarche remembers driving between EvergreenHealth, Overlake Medical Center & Clinics, and the clinics across the network multiple times per day. In early 2020, we got our own office space in Bellevue, near 520.
Our network now includes 4 hospitals, 5 emergency departments, 203 clinics, 87 specialties, 12 urgent care clinics, and over 1,500 providers. And we continue to grow. All of this despite spending the past two years in the middle of a pandemic.
We continue to see distributions to practices grow. As are improvement in quality scores. We are amplifying our focus on patient experience. Through the leadership of our Medical Director, John Nelson, we are committed to ongoing provider wellness initiatives.
This is a big milestone for us. We are excited and grateful to be here, and we can't wait to see what the next 5 years bring!
Welcome Amanda Dorman: EHN's new Provider Relations & Network Development Specialist
Eastside Health Network (EHN) is pleased to introduce our new Provider & Provider Relations Liaison, Amanda Dorman.
Know your Numbers: February is Heart Month
Nearly 1 in 2 American adults has high blood pressure, yet only 1 in 4 of those adults has that high blood pressure under control (CDC).
If left untreated, high blood pressure can contribute to heart disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, pregnancy complications, and cognitive decline later in life.
It's important to, first, know your blood pressure, and second, work to control your blood pressure if your numbers are high. Normal blood pressure range is at or below 120/80.
Medications are available to help control seriously elevated blood pressure, but lifestyle changes can also help. Some strategies to improve blood pressure include:
- 30 minutes of daily physical activity. Walking counts!
- Eating meals low in sodium and saturated fats.
- Sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night.
- Lowering stress and engaging in mindful activities like yoga and meditation.
- Stopping smoking (if you do smoke).
Blood pressure is important to your overall health, and your health care team will be happy to start a conversation about your blood pressure.
Great resources are available online. Here are a few:
Working through Major Depression and Agoraphobia
This month’s patient story comes from EHN Ambulatory Care Manager Jen Riley. EHN offers Care Management to members with chronic and difficult conditions. Jen tells us about a patient she recently reached out to, after receiving permission from their Primary Care Provider.
Jen began working with a patient in his mid-30s with a history of significant depression and anxiety. During initial intake, the young man acknowledged depression and anxiety leading to crippling agoraphobia, which resulted in unemployment, marital strain, and poor self-image. He attributed his depression and anxiety to a traumatic childhood and resultant strained family relationships. He reported that during the previous year he had disengaged from his previous therapist due to a poor fit and stopped taking his prescribed medications.
On a scale from zero to 10, the man rated his current operating capacity at a one, but he expressed a strong desire and commitment to improving his mental and physical health.
He made initial goals to develop a strong relationship with a mental health provider and resume riding his bike which he had previously found therapeutic. At the time of this initial phone call the patient explained that he had not left his home, for any reason, for nearly six months. On a scale from zero to 10, the man rated his current operating capacity at a one, but he expressed a strong desire and commitment to improving his mental and physical health. He made initial goals to develop a strong relationship with a mental health provider and resume riding his bike which he had previously found. The patient was successful in engaging with a mental health provider using the app Talkspace and set up a weekly virtual therapy appointment.
Jen and the patient continued weekly phone calls where they explored strategies to increase his coping with the effects of his anxiety, depression, and agoraphobia. He recognized that he realized a benefit from physical activity and expressed a desire to return to biking at a level he previously enjoyed. Initially, he set small goals like performing basic maintenance of his bike to make it road-worthy once again.
After six weeks the patient left his house for the first time and was able to ride his bike a mile. This was an enormous accomplishment for him and spurred him to make an appointment with his Primary Care Physician to discuss his health. Within three months the patient was riding his bike on a regular basis and continuing to add distance to his rides … up to 15 miles. He reported that his marriage was improving, he was making small steps towards setting boundaries, mending relationships with his family, and actively seeking employment.
Four months after the patient enrolled with Care Management, he had secured a part-time job at a local restaurant, had a strong relationship with his mental health provider, was regularly riding his bike for up to 20 miles, and described his health as operating at 80% capacity. He felt confident that he was ready to graduate from Care Management and expressed gratitude for the assistance in accomplishing his goals.
Embracing Provider Wellness
The field of medicine has become increasingly aware of the need for addressing the health of its employees. Thankfully, we are moving away from the past model that saw providers as super humans who didn’t need sleep and could work infinite hours into a model that recognizes providers need to take care of themselves and prevent burnout for their own health but also because providers with wellbeing provider better patient care (Shanafelt, 2021).
Experts in provider wellness recommend we embrace vulnerability and self-compassion, recognizing mistakes will happen and knowing that no one is perfect (Shanafelt). Providers have strengths but they also have weaknesses, and we need each other and our teams to build on our strengths and compensate for our weaknesses.
It's hard enough to embrace such shifts during normal times. It’s even harder in the midst of crisis. But we have to think about these issues because so many providers are at or beyond the point of burnout. At Eastside Health Network (EHN), we are dedicated to helping with provider wellness, and our efforts are led by our medical director, John Nelson.
We are continuing our provider small group support meetings, in which providers meet once a month for a series of six months, to discuss issues related to wellness. Early in 2022, we will begin our third round of these sessions. Providers who have participated in these meetings find them helpful for a variety of reasons. Here is a testimonial from past participant Darshana Shanbhag, MD, Internal Medicine, Overlake:
“Meeting in small groups has let me meet colleagues from different specialties and clinics in a very different setting, letting me know them more as individuals. In these stressful times in health care, it helps to foster a sense of community and connection. It has also expanded my perspective in the issues faced by others and has made me appreciate much more of the special support my clinic provides. Above all, it has been a lot of fun, with happy memories, and funny anecdotes.”
If you are interested in participating in our next sessions or even want to find out more information, please email Katie Olney at N-Kolney@eastsidehealthnetwork.com.
We would also love to hear from you. If your clinic has instituted a successful program to help with provider wellness, let us know, and we will share with the other clinics in our network. Or if you have ideas you’d like to try but haven’t had the time or resources, please reach out, and we’ll help in any way we can.
Shanafelt, T.D. (2021). Physician well-being 2.0: Where are we and where are we going? Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 96(10), 2682-2693.