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Should You Have An Annual Wellness Exam Or Screenings During COVID?

BY ST. LUKE’S WOOD RIVER

Regular screenings save lives, but you may be wondering if you should skip it in the age of COVID. With the pandemic lasting over a year, many have foregone these important annual checkups that can catch issues early. Early detection can make potentially serious health problems treatable, leading to better outcomes. Virtual visits, via telehealth, have become more widely available in order to provide care outside of the walls of the hospital and clinic setting.

At St. Luke’s, virtual care is integrated into our organization in many ways, within a variety of service lines, including wellness checks and behavioral health.  Dr. Frank Batcha, SLWR Family Medicine, explains telehealth and how it works.

“A virtual visit is a real-time, audio-visual interaction between patients/families and providers using telehealth technology. It occurs via myChart and can take place on a tablet or smartphone. Some evisits can also occur over the telephone without video.”

Patients can contact their primary care provider or specialist to inquire about utilizing myChart and telehealth.  Patients can also message their provider, request prescription refills, view test results, schedule appointments and e-check-in for an upcoming visit via myChart.

The annual wellness examination is an opportunity to focus on disease prevention and health promotion. Examinations provide a stepping stone for the development of a relationship between the provider and patient. Medical providers use the wellness exam to evaluate how the body is performing. This is your opportunity to create an individualized health plan, unique to your age, gender, and health issues. Your doctor can help you identify areas of your health that you can focus on to help prevent the development of chronic diseases. An average wellness exam may include but is not limited to the following components:

Comprehensive exam specific to age, gender and risk factors.

Vital sign monitoring that typically includes blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, as well as temperature, height and weight.

Medication management (risk vs. benefit).

Review guidelines for current preventative health and screening tests.

Laboratory tests which may include a chemistry panel, a lipid panel (cholesterol test), prostate-specific antigen (men only), and a diabetes screening test. Most of these tests are not necessary every year.

Skin evaluation for dermatological health.

Updated health history.

Developmental, behaviorial and/or psychological health evaluation.

Update needed immunizations.

Preventive care to offset chronic disease should be woven into all aspects of life, including where we live, work, learn, play and grow. Apart from disease screenings, the annual wellness exam is beneficial to answer patient questions about health and lifestyle choices while presenting an opportunity to steer patients in a healthy direction. When scheduling an annual wellness exam, you are making an important decision to take responsibility for your health and quality of life.

Don’t have a physician? Call the St. Luke’s Center for Community Health at (208) 727-8733 for help finding the right provider for you.   

It’s your life, We help you live it.

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