New health maintenance resource available for military beneficiaries

  • Published
  • By Lori Newman
  • Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

The San Antonio Market has developed a comprehensive tool to help military beneficiaries understand the current recommended health maintenance guidelines. The guidelines are displayed in an easy-to-read format with space for the patient to record their screening information details.

“Preventive care is the key to maintaining the health and wellness of our patients, but there are numerous guidelines out there for patients to sort through,” said Army Col. (Dr.) Timothy Switaj, market assistant director for clinical operations. “This health maintenance guide provides a summary of the key nationally accepted, evidence-based guidelines for preventive care in the United States. We added a tracking section to this guide so that patients are able to track their own preventive care and participate in the maintenance of their health.

“The conditions through the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the need for us, as healthcare providers, to do everything we can to help keep our patients healthy,” Switaj added. “We hope this will help empower our patients to more actively pursue preventive care.”

It is important to note, the guidelines apply to healthy adults and children. Someone’s health plan may differ based on their medical history. People should speak with their primary care manager to develop a specific preventive plan.

“The goal of screening is an opportunity for a clinician to identify risk factors for disease, prevent disease, and develop a specific plan tailored to a patient’s health and wellbeing,” said Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Dianne Frankel, Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine physician, Office of the Command Surgeon, Air Education and Training Command. “Preventive screening guidelines are developed by subject matter experts using evidence-based medicine decision making. Utilization of preventive health screening guidelines can prevent illness and death from the leading causes of diseases in the United States.”

Frankel said both adult and pediatric preventive health screening guidelines are updated by the CDC, United States Preventive Services Task Force and other agencies on a frequent basis as they obtain additional evidence-based information.

Additionally, health disparities occur among populations of different races, sexual identities, disabilities and socioeconomic status in the utilization of preventive health screenings. This has been recognized and published in both civilian and military health systems.

“A patient should not hesitate to contact their PCM if they have questions on the application of these guidelines to their health,” she said. “Virtual health appointments can be utilized to discuss and identify a patient’s risk factors with the assistance of preventive health screening guidelines for many diseases to include; certain cancers, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”

For example, lung cancer screening requires risk-based dialogue between the clinician and patient prior to a referral from the PCM for radiological services. A comprehensive discussion weighing the risks and benefits of screening tests/exams can be critical for a patient’s health and peace of mind.

Along with adult screening guidelines, it is also important to follow the recommended pediatric guidelines for well-baby visits and vaccinations.

"Routine well-child visits are so important because they provide critical growth and developmental screenings to optimize your child's physical, mental and social health,” said Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Crystal Palmatier, pediatrician, Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center. “These visits also give you and your child the opportunity to become comfortable with their medical team and to ask any questions that you have about nutrition, sleep, behavior, etc. Well visits aren't only about medical concerns, it is looking at the whole child.

“Routine childhood immunizations are vitally important in preventing serious illnesses that could affect your family,” she added.

To view and print the current health maintenance guidelines, visit Care/SA-Market-Health-Guidelines_Rev-07.pdf.