Our annual physical services allow your provider to evaluate your overall health and monitor any changes you may experience from year to year. The findings from your annual exam will be used as a benchmark for any future medical concerns you may develop or care you may require.
What Is an Annual Physical?
An annual physical exam is a routine evaluation of your overall health state. This office visit allows your doctor to make sure all your systems are functioning optimally and check for existing medical problems you may be unaware of. It also helps your provider monitor your risk for future health problems.
Your yearly checkup also allows your physician to provide preventive healthcare and lifestyle modification suggestions that can help you maintain or improve your well-being.
What Should I Expect at an Annual Physical?
When you visit your healthcare provider for an annual physical exam, they will perform a variety of assessments to evaluate your overall health. At this visit, you can expect your doctor to:
- Measure your weight and height. Your doctor uses your height and weight to calculate your body mass index (BMI). Having a high BMI may increase your risk for chronic illnesses like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and others.
- Speak with you about your health history. This is an excellent time to speak with your provider about existing or potential health concerns you have. You’ll also have an opportunity to discuss any changes in your family’s health status over the last year. Your doctor will likely also ask you about your exercise, alcohol consumption, and smoking habits.
- Check and record your vital signs. Your provider will measure your pulse, breathing rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. Significant changes in these measurements from year to year may indicate the presence of an underlying medical condition.
- Perform a physical examination. Using a hand-held light, your provider will visually examine your eyes, ears, and throat for any irregularities. They will also listen to your heartbeat and lungs with a stethoscope to detect irregularities that may indicate a heart or respiratory problem. Physical palpation is also a component of this exam. Your provider will feel your lymph nodes, check for lumps, check your organs, test your reflex responses, and perform other visual exams and physical tests to identify potential problem areas.
- Develop a screening plan. If you’re due for any specific health screenings, such as a colonoscopy, blood tests, bone density screening, cancer screening, etc., your provider will discuss them with you and can coordinate those tests.
- Update your vaccinations. You may need a booster shot or new vaccines, depending on your age and lifestyle practices. During your physical, your provider will review your vaccination record to determine if you’re due for or can benefit from any vaccines. You may also receive your annual flu shot during this visit.
- Manage your medications. If you take prescription medications, your doctor will review them to ensure you’re not at risk for any hazardous interactions. They will also make sure you’re taking the proper doses of your prescriptions and may adjust them if necessary.
- Provide suggestions on reducing your disease risk. As part of your annual physical, your physician will provide healthcare guidance tailored to your unique needs. This may include lifestyle modifications, physical activity recommendations, supplementation suggestions, recommendations for specialist visits, and more.
Depending on your age and health status, your doctor may also perform cholesterol testing, blood sugar testing, and screening for hepatitis C during your annual physical.
Why Do I Need an Annual Physical?
Getting an annual physical is in your best interest for several reasons. This yearly visit allows your doctor an opportunity to establish a relationship with you and create a baseline from which they will gauge your future health.
Annual physicals also allow your physician to detect potential health issues and recommend or implement preventive measures to maintain or improve your overall well-being.
How Long Does an Annual Physical Take?
Generally, an annual physical exam requires about 15 – 30 minutes of your time. However, every patient’s appointment is unique. The time required for your physical may vary based on the type of exams and testing you need.
What’s an Annual Physical Like for Women?
As part of a woman’s annual physical health assessment, additional gender-specific examinations and testing may be required. Some women see their primary care provider for these assessments, while others visit a women’s health specialist. Depending on a patient’s age and medical history, female-specific annual exams may include:
- A brief visual and physical breast exam
- A mammogram for women over the age of 40
- A visual and physical pelvic exam
- A pap smear and HPV testing
It’s important to note that these exams are not typically included in a routine annual physical. Women have additional reproductive health screening requirements in addition to their standard yearly health assessment. These screenings serve as preventive and diagnostic tools to help doctors keep track of any changes that may indicate the presence of an underlying condition.
What’s An Annual Physical Like for Men?
Aside from the standard health assessments included in every patient’s annual physical, men may also require additional screenings and tests, depending on their age and medical history. Male-specific annual exams may include:
- A complete groin and testicular exam
- A prostate screening
- A hernia exam
These screenings may be performed by a primary care provider or a men’s health specialist and serve as diagnostic and preventive tools. With routine testing, physicians are able to track and respond appropriately to any health changes that may occur.
What Can Be Diagnosed With an Annual Physical?
Depending on the type of testing your physician performs, a physical may alert you to the presence of or risk for a variety of health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Thyroid problems
- Osteoporosis or osteopenia
- Reproductive system irregularities
- Respiratory issues
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Organ problems
- Neurological conditions
- Skin conditions
If your doctor detects the presence of a health issue or believes you may be at risk for developing a specific condition. They may refer you to a specialist for more in-depth testing.
Does Medicare Cover Annual Physicals?
Medicare does not cover annual physical exams. If you are a Medicare-insured patient who has had Medicare Part B for longer than 12 months, your insurance will cover an annual wellness visit, not a physical exam. Medicare Part B will also cover one initial preventive physical exam, also known as a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit.
What’s the difference between a physical and wellness exam?
An annual physical involves a head-to-toe physical examination, while an annual wellness exam does not. During a wellness visit, your doctor will still evaluate your overall well-being, discuss any health concerns you may have, and develop or update a personalized preventive healthcare plan.
As part of your Medicare-covered wellness exam, your physician will also ask you to complete a health risk assessment. If necessary, they may perform a cognitive impairment assessment to look for early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
What Happens Once My Results Are Ready?
After your appointment, your doctor will provide you with a summary of your visit that recaps everything you and your physician discussed. Your provider will keep a record of what you reviewed during your physical and will refer to it at your next physical exam.
If you require additional exams or testing, your physician will interpret your results when they’re available. They may schedule a follow-up visit to go over your test findings, provide treatment, or make recommendations for further care.
At Healthcare Associates of Texas, we deeply understand the importance of routine screenings and exams for preserving and improving you and your family’s health. We provide comprehensive, individualized assessments and care plans based on you or your loved ones’ unique needs. We strive to deliver compassionate, convenient, and cost-effective treatment. To discuss any questions or set up an annual physical appointment, feel free to call your local clinic or schedule an appointment online.