Annual Wellness

What are Annual Wellness Checks?

As the U.S. healthcare system has evolved, people have had to take a more active role in the care they and their loved ones receive. Fortunately, when patients take more responsibility for understanding their healthcare and communicating with their healthcare provider, they can help extend their healthy years.

Preventive medicine is one area of healthcare in which all consumers can exercise more responsibility and control. Getting regular screening tests for common health problems is a simple and effective first step.

Screening tests can give the information needed to identify health risks and take preventive measures before they become more serious problems. Screening tests include self-checks, clinical exams, non-laboratory tests (such as imaging tests), and laboratory tests. The focus here is on laboratory screening tests.

Getting routine tests performed even though there are no symptoms can help to detect problems early and benefit the patient with easier and more effective treatment. It can sometimes even prevent disease. It’s easy to take these tests for granted, but their power to keep patients healthier for longer should not be underestimated.

For example, if a patient is at-risk for type-2 diabetes, catching the disease in its early stages may help them prevent or manage the condition with diet and exercise alone. Without early detection by a routine screening test, they could miss the opportunity to prevent diabetes, which could result in serious complications and a need for more intensive diabetes management.

To get the maximum benefit from preventive medicine, patients should approach wellness visits prepared to discuss their health outlook and family and medical history with their healthcare provider. The decision whether to have certain screening tests performed will depend on their risk tolerance. Whether to take advantage of laboratory screening is ultimately their decision, but starting from a base of health knowledge will help them communicate with you about what’s best for them.

Testing

Screening tests play a large role in preventive medicine and are an important part of a physical exam.

They have two major benefits:

Encouragement to Make Positive Changes
Even if your patient is healthy, they can learn to guard their health more closely if a test reveals, for example, a borderline high cholesterol level. Test results can help them take steps to reduce your risk and the likelihood that they will develop a life-threatening disease or disabling condition.

Early Detection
Even before symptoms are recognized or increased risks are identified, screening tests help detect disease in its early and most treatable stages.

There are other important conditions that a person may be screened for but that don’t involve laboratory testing. In addition, recommendations for newborn screening currently vary by state.