My partners and I have all seen patients who have avoided coming to the office for in-person visits during the past three months because they have been worried about contracting COVID-19. As our state has started to open up a bit, many patients with chronic illnesses have come back into the office realizing that it can be dangerous to let a chronic condition like diabetes go unchecked. But what about your annual physical exam? Is it worth coming into the office for something so routine? Absolutely. Here’s why.
1. We would much rather see you when you are well and catch illnesses when they are just beginning and often asymptomatic.
The purpose of an annual wellness check is to prevent illness and screen for conditions that could jeopardize your health. As an example, the majority of those who learn at their annual physical that they have early diabetes or elevated cholesterol were unaware of these problems prior to the physical. In addition, we ensure that your mental health is in a good place as we screen for depression and anxiety, which is especially important during these challenging times. If you are over the age of 65, Medicare covers your annual wellness exam to ensure that you are receiving all recommended screening tests and immunizations, as well as assessing concerns like bone health and risk for future falls.
2. Our offices are among the safest places to be.
I would not tell any of my patients to come into the office if I thought it was not safe. We take every precaution to ensure your safety. All staff and patients are required to wear face masks, which significantly decreases the spread of infection. All patients are screened with measurement of their temperature prior to check-in. Waiting rooms are set up to minimize contact and maintain physical distance. We sanitize patient rooms after each visit. Tryon Medical Partners has even tested all of our physicians and employees for COVID-19 each month for the past two months and are proud to report that as of June 2020 100% free of COVID-19.
3. You can discuss the pros and cons of a COVID-19 antibody test.
Your annual wellness exam is a good opportunity to discuss concerns about possible previous COVID-19 exposure and if antibody testing is right for you. Given the complexities of the test results, it is best to make a decision about whether testing is right for you after a discussion with your doctor. If a decision is made to test, then interpretation of the test results can be done by your physician.
4. It’s covered by insurance.
Most insurance plans cover an annual wellness visit because the goal is to prevent you from getting sick and to encourage maintenance of long-term healthy behaviors. Understanding what is covered and what is not may help you determine ahead of time the topics you would like to discuss with your doctor.
5. Virtual visits are great, but nothing replaces that human interaction.
During COVID-19, virtual visits have been absolutely indispensable for providing care while keeping everyone safe. Certainly, if you have concerns or a special circumstance that prevents you from coming into the office, then a virtual annual wellness exam is available. However, an annual physical is meant to be in-person for very good reasons.
The nature of the conversation you have in person is more intimate and open, allowing you to share something you might not feel as comfortable sharing in an online conversation. The eye contact you share with your doctor is an important part of building a strong relationship. In addition, virtual visits do not allow for the completion of a physical exam, which often yields important findings, such as an unrecognized heart murmur or abnormal breath sounds.
We built this practice on the premise that stronger relationships keep patients healthier. So book your annual wellness exam, keep up with your provider and stay healthy!