By Dr. Erin Henderson, internal medicine physician at Sheridan Memorial Hospital’s Primary Care Clinic
When is the last time you went to your doctor or primary care provider? Were you sick? Chances are you were seeking treatment for some sort of illness or injury, as data shows that less than 6 percent of Americans receive the recommended preventative services.
What are those preventative services?
There are a wide range of services you should check in with your health care provider about each year. These can include physician counseling on concerns like weight management, alcohol and tobacco use, blood pressure and cholesterol or screenings like mammograms, colonoscopies, pap smears, prostate screenings and immunizations.
Even if you’ve had a clean bill of health for years, it pays off to check in with your physician each year as it allows you to track your health over time.
Yearly visits mean you and your doctor can easily see changes in your health. Maybe your blood pressure is significantly higher one year. Or, perhaps you’ve lost a lot of weight without dieting. These can be signs of serious health issues. By conducting your annual wellness visit, your doctor can catch problems in their early stages, which is when they are usually easiest to treat.
Checking in with your provider once a year also allows you to share important health information. Whether this includes updates to any medications or supplements you’re taking or changes in your family medical history, all of the information can come in handy down the road for your health care team.
For example, if you only see your primary care provider when you’re sick, they have only seen you when your body needs treatment. It’s harder for physicians to treat illnesses if they only know your system when it’s under stress, ill, in pain, etc.
Seeing your physician regularly also allows you to build a relationship with the provider. This can help establish trust over years of care.
Most health insurance plans are required by federal law to cover a set of preventative services — like shots and screening tests — at no cost to you. While you should always check with your insurance company ahead of time, it’s likely your annual wellness visit and preventative screenings would be covered by your insurance plan.
As the new year begins, consider scheduling a wellness visit with your primary care provider. It never hurts to start the new year with a fresh conversation about your health!
To make an appointment with Dr. Henderson, call 307.675.2690. To learn more about the Hospital’s Primary Care team: https://www.sheridanhospital.org/medical-services/clinics/primary-care/.