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.

 

The #1 goal of your annu­al exam is to  GAIN KNOWLEDGE

 

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!