Have you ever heard the proverb “Knowledge is power?” It means that knowledge is more powerful than just physical strength and with knowledge people can produce powerful results. This applies to your annual medical physical as well! The #1 goal of your annual exam is to GAIN KNOWLEDGE. Annual exams offer you and your doctor a baseline for your health as well as being key to detecting early signs of diseases and conditions.
According to Malcom Thalor, MD, “A good general exam should include a comprehensive medical history, family history, lifestyle review, problem-focused physical exam, appropriate screening and diagnostic tests and vaccinations, with time for discussion, assessment and education. And a good health care provider will always focus first and foremost on your health goals.”
Early detection of chronic diseases can save both your personal pocketbook as well as your life! By scheduling AND attending your annual physical, you are able to cut down on medical costs of undiagnosed conditions. Catching a disease early means you are able to attack it early. If you wait until you are exhibiting symptoms or have been symptomatic for a long while, then the disease may be to a stage that is costly to treat. Early detection gives you a jump start on treatments and can reduce your out of pocket expenses.
When you are prepared to speak with your Primary Care Physician (PCP), you can set the agenda for your appointment so that you get all your questions answered as well as your PCP’s questions. Here are some tips for a successful annual physical exam:
- Bring a list of medications you are currently taking—You may even take pictures of the bottles so they can see the strength and how many.
- Have a list of any symptoms you are having ready to discuss.
- Bring the results of any relevant surgeries, tests, and medical procedures
- Share a list of the names and numbers of your other doctors that you see on a regular basis.
- If you have an implanted device (insulin pump, spinal cord stimulator, etc) bring the device card with you.
- Bring a list of questions! Doctors want well informed patients leaving their office. Here are some sample questions you may want to ask:
- What vaccines do I need?
- What health screenings do I need?
- What lifestyle changes do I need to make?
- Am I on the right medications?
Becoming a well-informed patient who follows through on going to their annual exam as well as follows the advice given to them from their physician after asking good questions, will not only save your budget, but it can save your life!