With any relationship, you get to know someone better through consistent communication. Your physician is no different. Visiting your physician annually—especially when you're healthy—allows your physician to get to know you and your health better, enabling him or her to detect health concerns early on.
"This is where we get to know people on a personal level," said Dr. Michael J. App, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics of West Michigan. "To know someone well gives me the opportunity to say: That's different for you."
Many health crises, such as strokes and heart attacks, can be avoided with annual checkups. Strokes caused by a blockage, for example, might have been prevented with a routine visit in which the physician discovered the patient had high cholesterol.
Annual physicals for adults cover key subjects that help detect health concerns: current medical problems,, past health concerns, recent surgeries or hospitalization, prescription or over-the-counter medication, allergies to medications and family history.
From there, the doctor will dive into more personal questions of a patient's social history, such as smoking habits, alcohol consumption, marital status, where one lives and works, and more.
Paired with a physical exam, these questions allow the doctor and patient to develop a plan for care.
"You never want to see a doctor in crisis," App said. "Between a planned visit and a crisis visit, a planned visit is better."