What Happens During a Wellness Visit?

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A wellness visit is a health check-up that is typically conducted on an annual basis. It involves visiting your healthcare provider to check your vitals, screen for health conditions, and develop a healthcare plan for your needs.

The aim of a wellness visit is to promote health and prevent disease and disability.

This article explains why annual wellness visits are important, what you can expect during the process, and how to prepare for it.

Importance of a Wellness Visit

These are some reasons why wellness visits are important.

Prevent Diseases

Most healthcare visits are categorized under diagnostic care; when you have a health problem, you visit a healthcare provider who assesses your symptoms, diagnoses your condition, and prescribes a treatment plan.

A wellness visit on the other hand is a preventative healthcare measure. The aim of preventative healthcare is to help you maintain good health and prevent health problems before they develop. The goal is to help you live a longer, healthier life.

Wellness visits assess your lifestyle, evaluate health risks, and screen for health conditions, in order to prevent health problems or catch them in the early stages. Instead of waiting to see a healthcare provider once you have a health problem, the idea is to be proactive about your health and work with your healthcare provider to prevent health problems.

People tend to think that it’s fine to skip their annual wellness visit if they’re feeling healthy. However, a 2021 study notes that wellness visits can play a role in catching chronic health conditions early, as well as helping people control for risk factors that could cause them to develop health issues down the line.

Reduce Medical Costs

Wellness visits can help prevent disease and disability, which in turn can help reduce medical costs. According to a 2016 study, a focus on preventive healthcare can significantly reduce medical costs and improve the quality of healthcare services.

What to Expect During a Wellness Visit

A wellness visit may be performed by a healthcare provider such as a doctor, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, physician assistant, or other qualified health professional.

These are some of the steps a wellness visit may involve:

  • Family history: Your healthcare provider may ask you detailed questions about your family’s medical history, to determine whether you are at an increased risk for certain health conditions that may be passed on genetically.
  • Medical history: You may also be asked questions about your personal medical history. It can include information about any current or previous diseases, allergies, illnesses, surgeries, accidents, medications, vaccinations, and hospitalizations, as well as the results of any medical tests and examinations.
  • Measurements: Your healthcare provider may measure your height, weight, heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs. Doing this regularly can help you establish a baseline as well as track any changes in your health.
  • Cognitive assessment: Your healthcare provider may assess your ability to think, remember, learn, and concentrate, in order to screen for conditions such as Alzhemer’s disease and dementia.
  • Mental health assessment: Your healthcare provider may also assess your mental health and state of mind, to help screen for conditions such as depression and other mood disorders.
  • Physical assessment: Your healthcare provider may perform a physical examination to check your reflexes. They may also perform a neurological exam, a head and neck exam, an abdominal exam, or a lung exam.
  • Functional assessment: Your healthcare provider may assess your hearing, your vision, your ability to perform day-to-day tasks, your risk of falling, and the safety of your home environment.
  • Lifestyle factors: Your healthcare provider may ask you questions about your nutrition, fitness, daily habits, work, stress levels, and consumption of substances such as tobacco, nicotine, alcohol, and drugs.
  • Health risk assessment: Based on this information, your healthcare provider will evaluate your health, and determine whether you are at an increased risk for any health conditions.
  • Health advice: Your healthcare provider may advise you on steps you can take to improve your health, control risk factors, and prevent disease and disability. This may include nutrition counseling, an exercise plan, flu shot and vaccination recommendations, and fall prevention strategies, among other things.
  • Screenings: Your healthcare provider may recommend that you get screened for certain health conditions such as depression, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or liver conditions. This may involve blood work, imaging scans, or other screening tests. 
  • Medication review: Your healthcare provider may review your medication and adjust it, if required. This can include prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, vitamins, supplements, and herbal or traditional medication.
  • Referrals and resources: If required, your healthcare provider will provide a referral to other healthcare specialists. They can also provide other resources that may be helpful, such as counseling services or support groups, for instance.
  • Medical providers: Your healthcare provider will work with you to create or update a list of your current medical providers and equipment suppliers. This list can be helpful in case of an emergency.
  • Healthcare plan: Your healthcare provider will work with you to create a healthcare plan that is tailored to your needs. The plan will serve as a checklist that will list any screenings or preventive measures you need to take over the next five to 10 years.

The screenings, assessments, and healthcare plan can vary depending on factors such as your age, gender, lifestyle, and risk factors.

How to Prepare for a Wellness Visit

These are some steps that can help you prepare for a wellness visit:

  • Fill out any required questionnaires: Your healthcare provider may ask you to fill out a questionnaire before your visit. The questionnaire may include some of the factors listed above. Make sure you do it before your visit, so that you can make the most of your time with your healthcare provider.
  • Carry your medications: If possible, try to carry your medications with you to show them to your healthcare provider.
  • Take your medical documents along: It can be helpful to carry your prescriptions, immunization records, as well as the results of any medical tests or screenings you have had, to help give your healthcare provider a more accurate picture of your health status.
  • Ask someone to go with you: You may want to take a trusted friend or family member along with you for the wellness visit. They can assist you if required, take notes for you, ask questions, and help you remember your healthcare provider’s instructions.
  • Note down questions and concerns: A wellness visit is a good opportunity to ask your healthcare provider any questions you have about your health and tell them about any health problems or concerns you have. Making a list and carrying it with you to the visit can help ensure that you don’t miss anything.
  • Check your insurance plan: Most insurance plans cover wellness visits; however, what is covered as part of the wellness visit can vary depending on the plan. It can be helpful to know what preventative services and wellness visits your plan offers. It’s important to check that your healthcare provider takes your insurance and to inform them that you’ll be coming for a wellness visit when you schedule your appointment.

A Word From Verywell

A wellness visit can help you evaluate your health status, understand your risk for specific health conditions, and give you the information and resources you need to improve your health.

After you go for a wellness visit, it’s important that you start implementing your healthcare provider’s advice, take any follow-up appointments necessary, and take steps to improve your health.

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6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. University Hospitals. What you need to know about wellness visits.

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  5. Alzheimer’s Association. Annual wellness visit.

  6. University of Michigan Health. Your yearly wellness visit.