Annual wellness visit: Why do it and what to expect | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

How an annual wellness visit keeps you healthy

An annual wellness visit with a primary care provider can help catch any emerging conditions and allows you to develop an ongoing relationship with a health care provider.

An annual wellness visit with a primary care provider can help catch any emerging conditions and allows you to develop an ongoing relationship with a health care provider.

Having that relationship makes communicating sensitive information much easier and allows for better overall care because you’ve got someone looking out for your health. With most insurance plans, your annual visit is covered 100% with no copays.

Schedule your annual wellness visit for your birthday every year so you don’t forget.

Reasons to schedule an annual wellness visit:

  • Ensure your immunizations are up to date, including a flu shot and shingles vaccine.
  • Discuss symptoms that may be bothering you or lifestyle changes you may want to make
  • Ask about general health concerns.
  • Your primary care provider can discuss whether you are ready for a mammogram, colonoscopy or other screening typically covered by health insurance.
  • Blood tests for cholesterol, blood sugar and indications of other conditions can let you and your provider know what you may need to keep an eye on.

Your provider will use all of this information to formulate a plan to keep you healthy and minimize damage from any issues that already may be present.

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“One big reason to start wellness visits is finding disease processes early,” said Dawn L. Courtenay, M.D., internal medicine/pediatrics physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Hurstbourne. “When we find out that someone has the beginnings of heart disease, for example, we can fix it. When we find out that a patient has advanced diabetes or colon cancer after the fact, it’s very difficult to treat. When you see someone every year, we can look at trends in their health status.”

For kids getting their annual well-child checkup, this is a time to monitor growth and development.

“They’re going to have a complete physical. I’m going to go through their development. I’m going to ask them about school. I normally don’t take blood at these visits, except once around 12 months and around 9 to 11 years old,” Dr. Courtenay said. “We’re going to be able to see subtleties that may not make them feel bad but could make a difference in their health long term. We are also going to screen for depression, especially in teenagers.”

For both kids and adults, the annual wellness visit will help to set goals and monitor changes. Primary care physicians are trained to uncover potential health issues, and catching those early increases the chance for a healthier future.

For many, these regular checkups have been lifesavers.

“If you have a relationship with a physician, you’re more likely to open up about any issues you’re having, whether it be medical conditions or feeling depressed or anxious,’ Dr. Courtenay said. “When you have that relationship, we take care of you physically, spiritually and mentally. It’s important to build that rapport and go back every year. As doctors, we truly care about our patients.”

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