Primary care key to preventative healthcare

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Chrissy Dupuy, 29, never gave too much thought about doctor visits.  After all, the Baton Rouge resident is in good health and rarely gets sick.  However, an online health tool from the Baton Rouge General Hospital prompted her to find a primary care physician, which she did not have, and get a checkup.

"I realized how important it is to have that relationship and have that connection and go every year for a physical and really know and understand your family history," said Dupuy.

Dupuy's family history of colon cancer, led her doctor to recommend a visit with a specialist who then recommended a colonoscopy.  That colonoscopy revealed she had five polyps.  While they were non-cancerous Dupuy now knows she must follow up ever five years.

BR General's online tool is called Piece of Cake.  In it patients create a profile, and it then sends customized email alerts about checkups or screenings based on medical needs.

The more the patient talks to me, the easier it is for me to do my job and really truly help the patient," said family practice physician Dr. Gunjan Raina.

Raina says the program has helped a lot in getting patients to open up about their medical history, and to start thinking about their health long before they become ill.

"Most patients are reluctant to talk about their family history. A lot of people are nervous and scared to divulge information such as cancer, diabetes. They are afraid of the unknown. A lot of people shy away from screening tests," said Raina.

The doctor added that having a primary care physician gives you an advantage because you develop a relationship that allows the doctor to better diagnose and treat you.

Finding a primary care physician who knows your history and having open conversations can be lifesaving because they lead to early detection of diseases like in the case of Dupuy.

For a link to the Piece of Cake program, click here.

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