Proactive Health Maintenance and Prevention Starts with Regular Doctor Visits

Dec 04, 2013, 13:00 ET from Buckeye Community Health Plan

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- One of the best ways to safeguard health is for patients to keep up with annual doctor check-ups, proactively seek information and take an active role in all of the decisions made about care. Good health depends on good communication between the patient and the doctor, according to Ronald Charles, M.D., vice president for medical affairs for Buckeye Community Health Plan (BCHP).

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Research shows that patients who plan ahead for their regular doctor appointments in advance and have good relationships with their doctors tend to be more satisfied with their care and get better results.

"Before a patient visits the doctor, there are some basic things that help make any appointment -- whether it's routine or a specialized treatment -- more productive and satisfying for all parties," Dr. Charles said.

He suggests that patients consider some general information that will be helpful to the physician in considering the patient's situation and also that they should anticipate questions to ask during the visit to make the most of their time with the doctor.

Review your family health history.

"It's very important for your doctor to know if any of your close family members have developed new conditions or diseases since your last visit. Family history can influence the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer," Dr. Charles said.

The healthcare provider will assess the patient's risk of disease based on family history and other factors and can recommend actions such as increasing exercise, making dietary changes, or using screening tests to help prevent or detect disease early.

Find out if you are due for any general screenings or vaccinations.

"Routine doctor visits are the perfect time to catch up on recommended screening tests based on the patient's age, general health, family history, and lifestyle as well as updating vaccinations and taking follow-up exams or tests," he said.

Make a list of issues and questions to take with you.

"To prepare for an annual or routine doctor visit, it's important to also think about existing health problems and note any changes, like lumps or skin changes, shifts in appetite, eating habits or sleep patterns, depression, distress or other issues," Dr. Charles added.

If there have been changes since your last visit, note when each change began, how the condition is different from the last doctor visit, and any other observations that might be helpful.  

Dr. Charles emphasized that the patient must be honest with healthcare providers. Patients may be at risk for certain diseases and conditions because of lifestyle, work, and play. Doctors and nurses need complete and honest information about medications and lifestyles. Providers develop treatment plans based partly on information obtained from the patient, he explained.

"Help ensure that you get the best guidance by providing the most up-to-date and accurate information about you. Be sure to write your questions down beforehand. Once you're in the office or exam room, it can be hard to remember everything you want to know," he said.

Think about your future.

What specific health issues need to be addressed concerning the future? If a patient is thinking about having infertility treatment, losing weight, beginning a strenuous exercise regimen (like marathon training, for example), taking a hazardous job, or quitting smoking, these are topics to be discussed with the healthcare provider to make better decisions regarding ongoing health and safety.   

"When you are ready to leave the doctor's office, ask for written instructions about your specific treatment, brochures or audio or videotapes, or request sources where you can get such materials," Charles advises.

"And, by all means, follow up if you have questions, if you do not hear about test results or if you have symptoms that worsen. Taking charge of your health by working with your doctor is one of the most important things a patient can do," he said.

For additional information about making the most of regular provider visits, go to the Centers for Disease Control at or the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality at

About Buckeye Community Health Plan

Buckeye Community Health Plan is a managed care plan that has been providing services in Ohio since 2004. Buckeye is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation, a leading multi-line healthcare enterprise offering both core Medicaid and specialty services. Information regarding Buckeye is available via the Internet at Buckeye can be followed on Twitter as @Buckeye_Health.

SOURCE Buckeye Community Health Plan