How can your doctor help keep you healthy?
It's not an easy question to answer, but the Partnership for Prevention, a coalition of more than 50 public and private health organizations, has studied the topic for several years. The National Commission on Prevention Priorities, chaired by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, was convened by the partnership to help guide the report.
After weighing thousands of medical studies, they have come up with a ranking of 25 clinical services that not only to help people stay healthy, they also are relatively affordable.
Just because some services ranked somewhat low, such as diet counseling, doesn't mean they aren't useful, said Ashley Coffield, a senior analyst and co-author of the study.
It probably means there has not been enough research on the topic or that people are unlikely to listen to their doctors' advice, she said.
"Obesity screening ... is not as easy as getting a flu vaccine or taking a pill. It's about what it's going to take to change diet and physical activity habits," Coffield said.
Here are the top 10 services and why they are so helpful. For the full rankings, click here: http://www.prevent.org/nccp
Health care providers should discuss taking a daily asprin with men older than 40 and women older than 50, and with any others at risk for heart disease. Very few adults take aspirin consistently, even though aspirin therapy is effective, affordable and relatively low risk.
Children should be immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases. Immunization protects against serious diseases for a lifetime.
Health care providers should screen adults for smoking and provide brief counseling. If this service were offered to all smokers, it could save $3 billion in medical care costs annually.
Adults older than 50 should be screened for colorectal cancer. Only about one-third of U.S. adults are screened, and bumping that number up to 100 percent could save about 19,000 lives every year.
Adults should have their blood pressure measured and those with high blood pressure should have it treated. High blood pressure and its complications result in more than $100 billion in annual medical costs.
Adults older than 50 should receive an annual flu shot, and adults older than 65 should receive a pneumonia vaccine (needed about every 10 years). These two infectious diseases sicken and kill thousands of older adults each year.
Doctors should ask patients about their alcohol use, and provide counseling if needed. People who drink excessively will often start drinking less if their doctors point it out.
Adults older than 65 should have their vision screened, because about 25 percent of them wear the wrong corrective prescription. This helps prevent falls.
Women should receive regular Pap smears, since the test screens for cervical cancer, which is highly curable if treated early.
Men older than 35 and women older than 45 should have their cholesterol screened and treated if it's abnormally high. One of out four adults who don't control their high cholesterol will have a cholesterol-attributable heart attack.