Don’t look now but the annual physical is being questioned by the powers that be. This USA Today article tries to give all sides and opinions but the answer is in the eye of the beholder.
• They help build relationships between doctors and patients.
• They are chances to fit in proven screening and prevention practices.
• They give all patients a reason to show up.
• Studies have found no evidence they reduce deaths or illnesses.
• They sometimes harm patients.
• They waste time.
• They waste money.
Both sides agree upon: Relationships between doctors and patients are important and should be nurtured.
To me, as a Direct Primary Care doctor, I want to know my patients. These visits allow me to ask what they are doing positive in their lives. It gives me a chance to educate them on diet and exercise. Their time and my time isn’t wasted. Money isn’t wasted because they pay monthly whether they come or not. I truly doubt the right studies show we do harm. I know that I have found ways to reduce deaths and illnesses by picking up high blood sugar, abnormal moles, high blood pressure, etc. In other words, in the right environment these annual physicals are worth it. In the industrialized cattle environment, where patients are churned through, there is no way they could even see 20% of their patients for a physical per year. Maybe this is why some doctors don’t believe in it. I also wouldn’t be surprised if this is not another covert way to lessen the importance of doctors. Just saying.