Make the Most Out of Your Wellness Visit

Doctor speaking to a patient in a doctor's office,

December 13, 2022 | Tags: Healthy Outlooks Wellness

Preparation, questions and openness are key to a good annual appointment with your primary care provider.

It’s easy to think of an annual appointment with your primary care provider (PCP) as a box to check off your to-do list, but you can get a lot more out of your visit when you become an active participant. Coming to your appointment prepared with questions or concerns, ensuring you understand any diagnoses or treatments, and following up when something is unclear are all simple actions that can lead to better long-term health. Dr. Ken Goetz, Manager, Medical Director for Clinical Quality and Health Services at Medical Mutual, has a blueprint to help you make the most of your wellness appointment.

Do Your Homework

“We all have this idealistic hope that the doctor will have unlimited time to spend with us. But the reality is doctors must see many patients each day,” Goetz said.

Often you have just 30 minutes with your PCP. With that in mind, preparation before your appointment can help you make the most of that half hour. Make a list of your medications to bring to the appointment. During the weeks before your appointment, take time to think about any new symptoms or health concerns that might’ve developed since your last visit. Create a list of those as well.

Now that you’ve done your homework, let’s break down the anatomy of a standard annual appointment.

What to Expect 

When you know exactly what to expect during your appointment, you’ll be more comfortable — and ready to speak up with questions and concerns.  

According to Goetz, you’ll start the visit by recording your height, weight and blood pressure. The doctor will also evaluate each organ system by listening to the heart and lungs and doing a visual exam of the head and neck, which can include the throat, ears, nose, sinuses, eyes, lymph nodes, thyroid and arteries. Your PCP may perform additional physical checks depending on your health history, age and sex. Then your PCP will talk to you about any vaccinations or screenings for which you may be due. Depending on your age and health history, you may also get bloodwork or a cholesterol screening.

Asking the Right Questions

After that, you’ll have the chance to chat with your PCP. Goetz said starting the conversation is as simple as asking, “How am I doing?” 

After getting some general insight on your health, you can get into specifics. Medical Mutual provides a list of common questions to raise with your PCP that cover both physical and emotional health.

This isn’t the time to be shy, Goetz said. People can feel embarrassed, think the doctor doesn’t have enough time, or assume the concern isn’t a big enough deal. In reality, there’s no such thing as a bad question, he said.

“Spill your guts,” Goetz said. “If you’re not going to tell your doctor, then who are you going to tell?”

Need to Follow Up?

You’re pulling into your driveway after your appointment, and you realize you forgot to ask something. It happens all the time.

Fortunately, most PCPs have an online portal that makes quick follow-up questions easy. 

Get Started Today

Medical Mutual can help you establish a relationship with a PCP. Just call the Customer Care number on your ID card to get started.