Rethinking the Periodic Health Examination

Although the periodic health examination means many things to many people, most agree that it refers to a patient encounter focusing on health maintenance and disease prevention. Exactly which preventive services should be offered during such a periodic examination varies in practice; however, the services discussed in this chapter have been shown to improve patient-oriented health outcomes. Many of these services may be provided during regular office visits and in the context of a periodic health maintenance visit. Batteries of tests (e.g., screening laboratory tests, ECGs) and general head-to-toe physical examinations often performed during preventive periodic health examinations (e.g., heart and lung auscultation, abdominal palpation) are not effective as general screening strategies in the general population. Instead, a customized preventive service package is most useful.

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