Good preventive care is essential for good health. Yet many patients underestimate just how important it is to see their provider when they feel fine. They may not realize all the advantages check-ups and screenings offer.
People do better when providers can keep health problems from developing and address concerns before they become serious. Treatments are simpler and less invasive. It’s more likely that issues can be resolved, and costs are frequently lower.
I encourage all of my patients to make time for prevention. For patients who have underlying conditions, preventive care can help them better manage their vulnerabilities and reduce their risks.
Preventive care is a big umbrella, but it includes several importing things:
- Annual exams: This is an opportunity for patients to connect with their doctor, check that their medications are working and that their dose is correct, discuss diet and exercise habits, get help managing chronic conditions, and screen for mental health concerns.
- Routine lab work: Usually ordered during an annual exam, lab work helps providers notice if something is wrong before a disease progresses and symptoms appear. For example, pre-diabetes and anemia can be revealed through blood tests.
- Screenings: Colonoscopies, mammograms, diabetic eye exams, and Pap smears can help detect concerns early on when issues are easiest to treat.
- Vaccines: The number one way to prevent serious illness and infection is to stay up-to-date on vaccines. This includes the COVID-19 vaccine.
Anyone age 18 and older should see their provider yearly. Most insurance companies cover annual exams. I also encourage patients not to save all their problems for that visit. It’s better to see a primary care provider as issues arise, not just once a year at an annual physical.
Exams are still important for individuals who presume they are healthy. When people are not seen by a medical professional regularly it’s possible for them to be unaware that they have developed a disease condition that needs treatment. Identifying diseases allows patients to manage issues properly, preventing long-term damage and complications.
I’ve cared for several female patients who stayed up-to-date on their annual mammograms and had the screening reveal an abnormality. Because the problem was caught early on, treatments were far less invasive.
Preventive care also encompasses mental health concerns. While mental health issues may sometimes be put on the back burner for a short period, they tend to bubble up and affect people’s health and lives. Making time to address anxiety, depression, and other conditions helps people feel better and function well day-to-day.
Stay on track with regular preventive care by scheduling an appointment at: mychart.tvc.org/mychart/openscheduling.
Paige Grider is a physician assistant at Vancouver Clinic–Ridgefield. She enjoys treating the whole person and is honored to be able to support people in sickness and health. For Paige, the connections she fosters with patients are the most rewarding part of practicing medicine.