People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) often view their gastroenterologist as their primary care provider, and tend not to see a primary care provider very often. A recent clinical guideline from the American College of Gastroenterology, however, suggests that people with IBD would benefit from coordinated care, where the gastroenterologist and the primary care provider keep each other informed of their patients’ health status and needs.
For example, IBD is often managed with immunosuppressive therapies that leave patients vulnerable to infections. Many infections can be prevented or mitigated by vaccinations, but gastroenterologists don’t necessarily know as much about vaccinations as primary care providers do. And primary care providers may not be aware that certain vaccines are not appropriate for some people with IBD, so communication is key.
Also, some IBD medications are associated with a risk for developing skin cancer. Furthermore, people with IBD experience more depression and anxiety than the general population. Primary care providers typically refer patients to specialists such as dermatologists and psychiatrists, if necessary.
The best-case scenario for people with IBD is coordinated care among all their healthcare professionals to ensure that their day-to-day health is maintained and that needs unique to IBD are being met. The guideline was published in 2017 in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.