A patient recently contacted me to ask what types of preventive measures she should be taking at this stage of her life.  I was a little surprised at this since this individual was a highly educated person.  But it dawned on me that a lot of patients are not following these issues closely or discussing them regularly with their doctor.  Some of the newer electronic medical records are sending out automated reminder messages about this but most aren’t, so what is a patient supposed to do? One of my previous blog posts mentioned that there no evidence that an annual physical exam and this was actually mentioned in this interchange with this patient.  Unfortunately, that is the catch phrase that stuck, instead of this paragraph that followed: So, if healthy patients don’t need to come in for annual exams, what is recommended for patients and their primary care physicians instead? Do you need to come in at all to see your physician and, if so, for what purpose? The answer is, yes, you should still make an appointment to visit with your doctor, probably annually. During this visit, we will review your health status, update your history, review your adherence to recommended preventive practices such as immunizations, colorectal cancer or breast cancer screening, etc. The point is that the emphasis is on reviewing your overall health status and what you can do to improve it, rather than just coming in to “be checked over” and “get some blood work done”. For my patients, and for all of you that are reading this, please visit with your physician at least once a year to simply review the essential elements of your health.  Any needed procedures such as a colonoscopy, pneumonia shot, shingles shot, mammogram or other preventive issue will be addressed during this visit.  Please don’t assume your doctor will contact you spontaneously to set these up—it is just too complex and difficult to do it this way.