Benefits of an Over-The-Phone Physical Exam

September 27, 2020

Those who have avoided visiting or put off their annual physical appointments at the doctor's office due to fears of contracting COVID-19 do not have put off those appointments any longer.

While COVID-19 is still a major threat and flu season is looming as an additional health-related danger, many patients are still in fear or simply not making visits to the doctor’s office to get their annual physical as they have in year’s past.

Those who have avoided visiting or put off their annual physical appointments at the doctor's office due to fears of contracting COVID-19 do not have put off those appointments any longer, according to Dr. Sachin Nagrani, medical director at Heal.

If you haven't attempted it yet or scheduled an appointment with your doctor recently, doctor's offices are scheduling physical appointments at the benefit of the patient never leaving their home.

Nagrani says patients can use their computer, tablet, or smartphone to download an app or visit their office's website for a telemedicine provider, such as Heal, to schedule an appointment and have their physical appointment right through the screen. However, you should be sure the service you've selected provides service in your state before requesting a visit.

It may be deceiving to some patients who don't see how a physical appointment can be held through a screen without physically being in a room with your doctor, but Nagrani says "the interaction between (a) patient and doctor over a phone or video-based call enables much of what's completed during a physical appointment to occur, with the exception of the physical exam being somewhat limited. Tests can be ordered to a lab where the patient can go to have the test sample collected, and in some cases test kits can be mailed to patients."

Before attending an over-the-phone physical appointment, it's encouraged - but not required- patients come prepared with providing their doctor with a list of medications, allergies, vaccine records and any other significant test results in order to be assessed holistically.

If you have a home blood pressure monitor, heart rate monitor, or other devices, many doctors are happy to engage in discussing your health data, as well, Nagrani says.

In addition, he adds patients should ask particular questions in their physical appointment.

"Ask about what tests are recommended by the USPSTF (United States Preventive Services Task Force) and other preventive screening guidelines, what vaccines are recommended for your age, and whether all the medications you're currently taking are necessary," Nagrani says.

Remaining proactive about your health and finding alternatives during this time is very critical to long-term outcomes.

Nagrani says primary and preventive care is about long-term thinking about your health, similar to how saving for retirement is for your finances.

"Being proactive enables you to discover things that can be changed sooner by adjusting habits slightly, before your health is impacted and results in drastic changes to your lifestyle," he says.