Focus on preventive care helps Lake Orion practice maintain high cervical cancer screening rates

Dr. Jennifer Prohow and patient

Lake Orion-based physician Jennifer Prohow, D.O., has a focus on preventive care that makes physicians, physician extenders and their medical assistants accountable for making sure patients get their preventive screenings.

Orion Family Physicians has a high rate of cervical cancer screenings because the providers stress early preventive care and take a team approach to treating patients.

“Preventive care is a really big deal for us,” says Dr. Prohow. “We check the charts of every patient who comes in for a visit, even if it’s a common cold.”

“My medical assistant knows my patients and has a good rapport with them,” she adds. “She actively looks for gaps in care, so when I go in to see the patient she has already evaluated the chart. When the patient comes in, ultimately they have been reminded twice about their overdue testing and they’re more likely to make the appointment to get their screening exams.”

Dr. Prohow says the changing guidelines have helped keep the practice’s cervical cancer screening rates high. “Now, cervical cancer screening is every three to five years based on age and whether they’ve been co-tested for HPV,” she says. “I document when my patient got her screening whether it be with us or a gynecologist. The medical assistant confirms that the patient went and pulls the results. If we find it’s outside the screening period, we make another follow-up call with the patient.”

Since Dr. Prohow serves a large population of women of childbearing age, many still see their gynecologists.”I still feel responsible for their health care so we always follow up to be sure they are up to date.”

All five doctors and their five physician extenders in the practice pay the same attention to detail. They work together with the medical assistants to provide comprehensive chart reviews and devise follow-up plans.

 “We also educate patients about the importance of cervical cancer screenings and other preventive care,” says Dr. Prohow. The office distributes patient handouts about screenings during physical exams. “Education is important for younger women because a lot of young girls don’t know about PAP smears, HPV screening and how HPV is transmitted,” says Dr. Prohow.

Some challenges to cervical cancer screening that the office faces is still an element of non-compliance, lack of education about screening and a lack of insurance coverage. If the patient has no insurance, Dr. Prohow refers them to the Michigan Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, which provides free cervical and breast cancer screening for women over 40. “I make sure patients get access to all the resources available to them,” she says. “People have to take responsibility for their health, but we do a pretty good job of engaging them and pointing them in the right direction,” she says.

“One of the attributes I liked when I first interviewed with this practice nine years ago is the focus on patients,” said Dr. Prohow. “We spend a lot of time with our patients. With reimbursements decreasing, doctors feel more pressure to see more patients every day. We may see fewer patients, but we like to spend the extra time for those important conversations.”