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Wellness Exams

Regular checkups are an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing illness. Annual wellness exams are a cornerstone of preventive care that provide an opportunity for the early detection of disease or illness.

The primary care physicians at The University of Kansas Health System understand the importance of building a history of health with regularly scheduled annual wellness visits. As an interdisciplinary health system, physicians from a wide range of disciplines work directly with your regular doctor to ensure your health.

What is a wellness exam?

Many people do not visit the doctor until they are sick. While it's important to visit the doctor if you're feeling unwell, it can also be helpful to visit the doctor even when things are fine.

Wellness exams are a component of preventive healthcare. An annual wellness visit is a regularly scheduled exam that lets your doctor create a detailed history of your health. This helps doctors detect disease early by establishing positive and negative trends in your overall well-being.

Frequently asked questions

  • Annual preventive/wellness visits covered by most insurance plans include prevention, screening and wellness only. These visits do not require a copay. Annual preventive/wellness appointments do not include care of a significant preexisting, acute or new medical problem. Medical care required during annual preventive/wellness appointments will be charged as a separate encounter. If this occurs, your insurance company will require a copay, for which you will be financially responsible.

  • Primary care providers are trained to identify when a specialist may be needed. In some cases, your doctor can start you on a medication or a care plan while you wait to get into a specialist. When you do visit a specialist, they will share information with your primary care provider. This enables your PCP to provide comprehensive and continuous care as part of a patient-centered medical home.

  • The patient-centered medical home model is an approach to primary care that prioritizes patients and emphasizes developing a long-term relationship. Your PCP will help coordinate care across any specialists you see in the health system and can also make connections to community resources. Getting established with a primary care expert at the health system may improve your quality of life through more personalized recommendations for care, make scheduling appointments easier and get you seen faster when you’re sick.

Self-schedule primary care through MyChart. Don’t have a MyChart account? Sign up now to create one.

Who can have wellness exams?

An annual wellness visit is important for everyone, regardless of age or health condition. Some people, such as young children and seniors, require more frequent visits. Regularly scheduled wellness visits play a vital role in maintaining your health throughout your lifetime, and benefit those who are currently healthy as well as those who may currently be sick.

Some wellness exams are designed to address more specific aspects of health, such as well woman exams or an annual eye exam.

What does a wellness exam diagnose?

Wellness exams aren't used to diagnose a specific illness, but rather work by creating data points in your health chart that allows your doctor to track key factors influencing your health. Your doctor will take measurements of weight, blood pressure, heartbeat and other important indicators of overall health.

During your wellness exam, your doctor will also take a general assessment of how you feel and follow up with further testing if needed. Having a detailed record of your health along with annual wellness visits improves the chances of detecting illness or disease early.

In addition to providing an early detection system for serious health concerns, creating a preventative treatment plan is part of each wellness exam. This plan outlines the positive changes you can make to work toward better health. Quitting smoking, increasing physical activity and regular screenings are all potential components of a wellness plan.

Your doctor can also check up on your mental health and overall well-being, including whether you feel safe in your home or have gone without food or shelter.

What are the risks of wellness exams?

A wellness checkup does not carry any sort of significant risk as it is mainly a conversation between a doctor and patient. The benefit of annual wellness exams is a much clearer picture of a person’s health over time. Early detection of disorders and disease is crucial to treatment, and regular wellness exams are where that most often happens.

Before your wellness exam

Your doctor will let you know if there are any special instructions you need to follow.

Here are some general tips for staying well in between doctor visits and making sure you’re prepared.

How to stay well between visits

  • You don’t need to be an athlete. Something as simple as walking for exercise is incredibly important for your mental and cardiovascular health.

  • Smoking is a tremendous risk factor for cancers, chronic illnesses, lung disease and heart disease. Quitting smoking improves your health immediately but is also important for preventing future illnesses.

  • To know whether your medications are effectively managing your symptoms, or causing any side effects, you need to be taking them in the correct dose at the required times.

  • There’s a lot of health information circulated on social media and other places. Your doctors want you to ask about medications, their side effects and any other concerns. Your doctor will not be offended by any questions.

  • Taking care of your teeth between wellness visits is a great way to care for your health overall. If you have issues with your teeth, it may affect your ability to eat healthy foods. Not eating well can lead to problems like high blood pressure. So, maintaining good dental health is very important to preventing other health complications.

  • Current patients of the health system can log in to MyChart to see notes from their previous appointments and to schedule a wellness visit. Also use it to update your list of current medications, allergies and family history. Make sure it stays accurate and note any recent changes.

What to expect during your wellness exam?

Your primary care physician will measure several aspects of your physiology as part of your annual wellness visit. These include your vitals (weight, height, blood pressure, etc.) and a physical examination. Notes made from the assessment will be accessible in your patient portal.

Exams may differ based on age, gender or other variables. In some cases, screening for conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes may be conducted. Any necessary shots or immunizations can also be administered.

Depending on your age, you may discuss whether you need to schedule a cancer screening. For example, the American Cancer Society recommends average-risk patients get cervical cancer screening beginning at age 25, mammograms at age 40, colorectal cancer screening at age 45 and prostate cancer screening between age 50 and 70.

Upon leaving a wellness exam, you should have better insights into your current health and a solid plan for maintaining or improving your physical and mental wellness.

Recovery and results for your wellness exam

An annual wellness exam is a simple outpatient appointment that doesn't require any recovery time. If your doctor wants to order any diagnostic tests or lab work, you may need additional appointments and follow-ups after your initial wellness exam. These findings will provide important information for future wellness exams.

Why choose us for wellness exams

Wellness exams are conducted by primary care physicians, and The University of Kansas Health System offers comprehensive primary care for people of all ages. Primary care services are available at several community locations throughout the Kansas City metro region.

Our comprehensive team includes more than 120 board-certified physicians, advanced practice nurse providers and physician assistants. A provider who focuses on family medicine, geriatric medicine, internal medicine or pediatric medicine can be chosen to best meet the needs of a person.

As part of an academic medical center, patients have access to the latest in preventive and collaborative care with nationally recognized subspecialists.

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