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Should you get your annual physical?

These two companion articles are a point-counterpoint discussion of the value of continuing the practice of annual physicals, or periodic health exams, for adults.  Annual physicals are the most common reason that Americans visit doctors and cost an estimated $10 billion or more each year.  Drs. Mehrotra and Prochazka argue that there is value in a regular “relationship visit” or a “primary care maintenance visit,” but that these need not necessarily be every year.  They go so far as to argue that payers should “no longer reimburse for annual physicals or use receipt of physicals as a measure of health care quality.”  Dr. Goroll argues that the annual physical should be improved by making it of longer duration and more of a team effort – with the screening, data collection, and data recording assigned to non-physician staff.  He agrees that the interval might be longer than a year for low-risk patients.


Mehrotra, A., and Prochazka, A. (2015, Oct. 15). Improving value in health care: Against the annual physical. The New England Journal of Medicine, 373(16), 1485-1487. http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMp1507485

Goroll, A.H. (2015, Oct. 15). Toward trusting therapeutic relationships: In favor of the annual physical. The New England Journal of Medicine, 373(16), 1487-1489.  http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMp1508270  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2003, rc@aha.org




PHYSICIAN VISITS: How often should you see your doctor?

Little is known about how often you should see your doctor, or the best interval between follow-up visits to physicians, according to the authors, who are all affiliated with Harvard Medical School.  It’s a question of interest in this era of accountable care organizations (ACOs), in which new care models are being fashioned.  The authors do not end up making any recommendations as to the optimal frequency for physician visits, but they do present some suggestions as to how to begin to think about making the health care system more efficient.  For example, ACOs could re-engineer the referral process to specialists to avoid unnecessary first visits.  Also, technology could be used more effectively to replace face-to-face encounters in the office or clinic.

Source: Ganguli, I., Wasfy, J.H., and Ferris, T.G. (2015, Apr. 6). What is the right number of clinic appointments? Visit frequency and the accountable care organization. JAMA, E1-E2. Retrieved from http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2241120&resultClick=3  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org