Come on, this will only take two minutes.

Nobody wants to, but here's the deal

I don't believe I've ever heard anyone—including me—say they look forward to visiting the doctor, especially when they're feeling fine. Who needs the anxiety of having an annual checkup just to learn you have God-knows-what that you didn't even suspect you had? Nevertheless, as I now focus on what we can do for ourselves and loved ones to achieve best health outcomes—in spite of the looming crisis of access—preventive care tops the list. (Anytime you need a refresher on demand/supply info:

For my demographic peeps, I'm talking about Medicare's Annual Wellness Visit (AWV). More precisely, I'm speaking to the 75 percent of seniors who don't currently get one. Before you start mumbling about how it's a waste of time to draw a clock or remember three words for three minutes (BTW, good luck with that), the AWV is a "health risk assessment," not a physical exam. That's why you remain fully clothed while they measure BP, ask if you've fallen recently, review your meds, etc. To be clear, I tag on a full blood panel to track my numbers and maintain a current baseline, and Medicare has never denied payment. My doctor also listens to my heart, lungs and carotid arteries. So, if your AWV seems like "a waste of time," maybe you need a new doctor. Just sayin'.

For those with private health insurance, start by learning what regular tests are recommended for your age, gender, family history, etc. In the near future, I'll talk about the disturbing rise in rates of cancer for people under age 50, but for now, know that prevention is key. Verify the type and frequency of checkups covered by your plan and make the call. Caveat: expect some wait time to schedule an annual checkup.

But here's the head fake . . .

Just 30 seconds more

The major advantage of having an annual checkup of any variety is not the early detection of a medical issue, although that's a good thing. The enduring benefit is in establishing and maintaining a patient-provider relationship. That's the foundation of advocacy and team care management for any acute, emergency or chronic condition down the road. If my PCP gets a call from an ER doctor or specialist to gain perspective on me, without a doubt he will say, "Oh yeah, I know her" (followed by big eye roll).

If you can't recall when you last had a medical once-over, please make this a priority. Here's to a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Where will you be when the music stops?

Jo has a fix for health care's supply chain crisis. If your organization wants to host a thought-provoking and informative program on the demographics of health care and how to prep for the perfect storm, click here for details about Bridges. Then contact Jo at to explore the possibilities.

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