Jill Lenhart, M.D.
FAQ: Your care team
Care teams collaborate to deliver the highest-quality care, with the best patient experience and outcomes, in a way that also reduces costs. Your primary care provider guides your care team.
Why do I need a primary care provider?
Having a primary care provider allows you to establish trusting relationships with a care team who gets to know you and your medical history, and provides continuity of care for you and your family.
A primary care provider:
- Can be a physician or advanced practitioner provider
- Is available to evaluate and treat day-to-day health problems
- Advises you on preventive screenings at different stages throughout your life
- Follows up with you to explain test results and judge how well your treatment is working
- Refers you to qualified specialists when needed
- Maintains the big picture of your overall health and treatment needs
Establishing care at Mayo Clinic Health System is easy. Find your local clinic's contact information for help selecting a primary care provider and transferring health records.
What is team-based care?
Your care needs are important. The team-based approach to care will support you with a variety of caregivers who can focus on your individual needs in the most convenient, supportive ways possible. The members of your primary care team each have a specific role in supporting your care and health goals.
What are the care team members' roles in my care?
Though collaborative teamwork, your care is delegated to the most appropriate team member.
Your extended care team includes:
You are at the center of the care team and everything they do. Care teams are responsible for understanding your needs and supporting your health.
- Registered nurses
Registered nurses educate, assess your needs and coordinate care if you need customized plans of care. Also, visits with registered nurses are are scheduled for other reasons, such as hypertension checks, 6- and 12-month well-child assessments, and adult annual wellness visits.
- Licensed practical nurses, medical assistants and clinical assistants
These medical staff members prepare you for the visit, coordinate preventive services and care with other providers if you have chronic conditions, and provide vaccination visits.
- Allied health staff
Scheduling, registration, clinic assistants and secretarial staff are the doorway to your care team and guide you to the right level of care at the right time.
- Additional primary care members
Behavioral health specialists, dietitians, pharmacists, therapists, social services support and other health care specialists join your care team as needed.
Your care team will coordinate with specialists to ensure your care plan fits your needs, lifestyle and family circumstances.
What are the benefits of having a care team instead of seeing my own provider every time?
A care team improves your care in several ways. Instead of depending on just one provider, an entire team is supporting you.
When you need to see a specialist, your care team will connect you to the right person. Your team will remind you when it's time for a preventive exam or wellness screening.
You'll often be able to receive care more quickly than in the past because you now have more people prepared to meet your needs. This will help make your visit as efficient and productive as possible.
I prefer to see my physician, but I was offered a visit with a nurse instead. Why?
Your appointments and the care team professional you see are tailored to your specific needs and complexity. This allows all patients access to the right provider at the right time. For example, some registered nurses are specifically trained to provide care related to recurring hypertension visits and Medicare annual wellness visits. When a registered nurse determines that your condition has become more complicated, you will be referred to a nurse practitioner, physician assistant or physician.
Why does my doctor suggest I see a nurse practitioner or physician assistant for my next clinic visit?
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants work in partnership with physicians to ensure you get the care you need when you need it. Together, they coordinate treatment for patients seen in Primary Care.
How do I access the care I need?
This team-based approach often can deliver your care via telephone or through Patient Online Services — Mayo Clinic Health System's patient portal. In addition to your care team, the Nurse Line is available 24/7 to access advice from expert and caring nurses, and get help determining the best care option.
During the pandemic, you and your family may have questions about getting tested for COVID-19. The Check Symptoms assessment tool in Patient Online Services on the web and through the Mayo Clinic app can provide you with care recommendations. You'll answer the same questions you would be asked if you called the COVID-19 Help Line at 507-293-9695.
How do I receive the care I need?
If you need a visit, your care team or the Nurse Line can determine the best route of care for your needs.
The care you receive may be:
- A visit with a member of your care team or a specialist in the clinic
- In Urgent Care or Express Care
- Online through a video appointment, Express Care Online or eConsult
If you require immediate medical attention for a severe or life-threatening situation, you will be seen in the Emergency Department nearest you.
How do I get started?
Register for an account in the patient portal or download the Mayo Clinic app to get started. Call 1-877-858-0398 for assistance. Read more about the patient portal.
Get tips for how to plan ahead to make the most of your health care visit.
Jill Lenhart, M.D., is a Family Medicine physician in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.