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What We’re Reading: “Why the Annual Physical Needs to be Strengthened – Not Eliminated” from WSJ

In a recent article from The Wall Street Journal, practicing physician and professor Allan Goroll provides a thoughtful look at the annual physical and stresses its continuation and revitalization in light of a recent call for the exam to be discontinued.

Critics of the annual physical are not without reason – in the current healthcare climate, a growing number of primary-care physicians find they don’t have enough time to adequately cover all areas of an annual physical. They resort to asking standard questions and ordering additional screening studies.

Despite its shortcomings, Dr. Goroll disagrees that the annual physical should come to an end and instead calls for its reform.

“… Eliminating the annual physical because its current incarnation has little value is like saying we should stop eating because we had a bad meal. The annual physical shouldn’t be abandoned. Rather, it needs to be revitalized so it can once again serve its original purpose: sustaining the patient-doctor relationship and the comprehensive, personalized care it engenders,” writes Dr. Goroll. “Discontinuing it is a threat to the relationship and to overall patient care at a time when primary care is already strained.”

The annual physical, described by Dr. Goroll as the “periodic comprehensive health review,” not only addresses and prevents medical problems, but also helps to cultivate meaningful physician-patient relationships.

At Specialdocs, our physicians believe effective lifestyle change often begins with an extended wellness exam, which lays the foundation for a personalized preventive treatment plan. The benefits of a thorough annual physical align well with the concierge medicine model which provides more time to care for each patient.

Physicians, what are your thoughts about the annual physical? How should it be enhanced or improved? Share your insights with us at LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

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