Why are Annual Exams & Routine Screenings Important?

By: Tori Bowlin

August 17, 2021

Renown patient getting mammogram

Early detection can help prevent serious illness, yet many people still choose to skip this simple, easy way to stay healthy.

Why are annual exams so important?

The benefits of early detection and prevention to save lives and reduce the impacts of disease have been proven. These exams are the perfect opportunity to get your health questions answered.

“This is your chance to sit down with your provider and talk about your overall health and your family’s health history as well as your concerns for the future,” says Bonnie Ferrara, M.D., family medicine. “It’s the opportunity for your provider to talk with you about your lifestyle, tobacco use, exercise and alcohol use, all of which make a difference in your future longevity.”

The annual wellness exam is also an ideal time for most adult patients to discuss health screenings. In addition, these visits are the perfect time to address issues that may not directly relate to a particular medical problem or immediate illness. A good rule of thumb is to schedule these appointments around your birthday each year to make sure you and your provider are both updated on your care.

Why would you need an annual exam if you aren’t feeling sick?

According to Dr. Ferrara, seeing your care provider when you aren’t sick is one of the best times. “It is better if you try to arrange this visit when you are not feeling ill,” she says. “It is an opportunity to talk about wellness. Not only how to contribute to your wellness but also the changes that you can make that will make huge dividends in the future for your wellness. In addition, it allows us to do some education about what to expect in the coming years as far as your health and lifestyle changes.”

What can you expect at an annual exam?

Annual exams usually check your:

  • History – lifestyle behaviors, health concerns, vaccination status, family medical history
  • Vitals – blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate and temperature
  • General appearance – your care provider can find out a lot about you just by watching and talking to you

Dr. Ferrara adds, “If this is a Medicare annual wellness exam, it is an opportunity to talk to your provider about depression and dementia as well as be tested for those.”

Your annual exam is also the time for your provider to discuss chronic health problems and if they are well controlled or out of control. “As a provider, these visits allow us to hear how the medications and lifestyle changes we have recommended are working and if you are having problems with these, we have the opportunity to make suggestions of how to do things better for the future,” says Dr. Ferrara.