The annual well-check goes by many names — well-check, check-up, preventive care visit, annual physical — but it’s important no matter what you call it.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Instead of being focused on problems, like many other doctor visits, the well-check is focused on preventive care. It’s also an active part of our pursuit of personalized healthcare because it helps us focus on your specific health status and needs.
Here’s what to expect from an annual well-check.
“Instead of being focused on problems, like many other doctor visits, the well-check is focused on preventive care.”
Kathryn Teng, MD
Center for Personalized Healthcare
1. Measure height and weight
These standard measurements provide a baseline and a way to monitor your health. For example, big changes in weight can indicate health problems.
2. Check vital signs
You know the routine — blood pressure and heart rate especially. These are important for everyone to monitor, but especially if you have a family history of heart disease.
5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment
3. Review personal health concerns
Is a new symptom bothering you? Have you noticed something you want to follow up about? This is your chance. Come prepared to ask questions.
4. Review medical care preferences
This is also your chance to review your preferences related to medical care. Have you considered your approach to blood transfusions or do not resuscitate (DNR) status, for example? These aren’t always easy conversations to have, but your doctor can walk you through them.
5. Assess your social environment and how it affects your health
Are you around a lot of smoking? Is stress a major issue for you at work? What is your diet like? Knowing about these types of environmental factors can help your doctor know your risks — and help you reduce them.
6. Review your medication list
What are you currently taking, including supplements and over-the counter drugs? Knowing this information helps with future prescriptions and with avoiding any dangerous drug interactions.
7. Review family health history
Family history is such an important tool in personalized healthcare. Come prepared with information about your relatives, including what conditions they have or had, and if they are no longer living, how they died and at what age. The Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait website is one tool among many that can help.
8. Have an actual physical exam
Your doctor will evaluate each organ system. For certain age groups, this also may include a clinical breast exam and pelvic exam for women and a genital and prostate exam for men.
9. Get necessary tests and screenings
This may include blood tests, which are customized to evidence-based screening guidelines for your age group and sex. Be sure to follow up with your doctor’s office about results, too.
This list is not all-inclusive, of course. Depending on your health, your doctor may order additional tests or ask additional questions. Remember that an annual well-check is all about you — so it will be tailored to you, too.