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Why should I get an annual physical?

Annual physicals allow physicians to keep track of any health concerns and treat them before they become larger problems.

Most health insurance plans cover an annual physical or wellness exam. So, why is it so hard for individuals to schedule an annual physical? Often, the complaint is “It takes too long.” Or “Nothing is wrong with me, so why should I go? The goal with annual wellness exams is to be proactive with YOUR health. Doctors can often identify troublesome moles as precancerous, note your blood pressure is slightly elevated year after year, and diagnose potential cardiovascular diseases before they become heart attacks. Preventive medicine is about keeping you healthy.

Our goal at think is not only to take care of you when you are sick but take care of you when you are well by keeping you well! 

Top five reasons to get an annual physical

Annual physicals can identify underlying issues that aren’t symptomatic.

It’s not uncommon for a physician to begin gathering information for your general health during an annual physical. This information can reveal trends that signal potential health issues before they become a problem. For instance, a patient with erratic blood sugars who doesn’t have diabetes could develop Type II diabetes. Conversing about diet and exercise could help the patient avoid a lifetime of blood sugar testing and insulin injections.

Wellness visits create better rapport with your Primary Care doctor.

For whatever reason, some people have difficulty visiting their doctor and only make appointments when showing signs of illness. Creating a strong rapport with your doctor can help keep the lines of communication open. Having an in-depth conversation about your health when you feel good is much easier than when you are ill and under duress.

Stay current with your preventive screenings and vaccinations.

An annual physical exam enables your doctor to administer boosters for tetanus, Influenza vaccinations, and more. When appropriate, the AMA recommends other preventive screenings, such as blood lipid profiles, fasting blood tests, pap smears, HPV tests, colon cancer screening, prostate cancer screening, etc.

Having updated medical records can be invaluable in an emergency.

In an emergency scenario where time is critical, accurate medical records are important. The history of your chronic diseases or overall health can help steer emergency department staff toward quicker courses of treatment. Additionally, updated medical records mean your doctor can track and manage your health risk more accurately. 

You are managing your chronic diseases with annual wellness exams.

Did you know that 51% of American adults have a chronic disease, and 27.2% have more than one chronic disease? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identifies these conditions as chronic health conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Current asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Hepatitis
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Weak or failing kidneys

Most chronic diseases can be managed to retain some level of independence and quality of life. They will require visits to your Primary Care provider and specialists regularly, including your annual wellness visit.

Medicare patients and annual physicals

Medicare patients are unique in that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have very high-quality standards for healthcare providers. Like think’s Primary Care physicians, providers are measured on several metrics ranging from the percentage of flu shots administered to mammograms performed. Think Whole Person Healthcare’s ACO strives to maintain the highest possible quality scores in several categories. Think’s ACO ranks among the top ACOs in the country for several quality metrics. We summarize quality care in four tenets: 

  1. Understand patients’ health risks
  2. Create customized care for each patient’s unique needs
  3. Cultivate continuous engagement with our patients.
  4. Use the data to improve outcomes and continue improvement.

It’s important to understand a patient’s baseline health, so we spend extra time on your initial physical to ensure we have an accurate assessment of your overall health. Then, we create care plans that are unique to your specific needs. These plans may involve other specialists or the services of our nurse care team and clinical pharmacists. The team works together to help you get and stay as healthy as possible. Our approach is collaborative, which includes you–right in the middle. We empower our patients to take an active role in their health. Annual wellness exams play an important role in monitoring your health progress. 

If you see your doctor more frequently, ask your doctor to incorporate an annual wellness exam in your next visit. Routine office visits may not include tests performed during an annual wellness exam. 

When should I schedule my annual physical?

Most insurance plans cover one annual physical under their preventive health benefits. If you haven’t been to the doctor in the last year, it’s time to schedule your appointment! Usually, preventive health benefits start over at the first of the year, when your deductibles reset. It’s wise to take advantage of getting in your annual physical before your plan’s benefits cycle starts over. Primary Care physicians are in high demand toward the end of the year. Call today to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors or complete our new patient form. We would welcome the opportunity to take care of you at Think Whole Person Healthcare.

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