– Experience from developed nations has shown that not all annual health checkup is beneficial.
– These countries have formed special task forces for developing recommendations on preventive care.
– Most such preventive task forces including US and Canada recommend periodic preventive care instead of annual care.
– The periodic care is an individualized model and “one size fits all” screening is considered a practice of past.
Traditions evolve over time! Medical science by nature is ever evolving. The traditions in medical science, thus would die very fast. But it takes time and a lots of evidence to challenge long established traditions.
We all agree that “Prevention is better than cure”. But what is the best form of prevention is ever debatable and changes from time to time.
The tradition of annual health check ups is declining globally, and the new trend is “Periodic” instead of annual.
1. What is periodic preventive care?
Periodic preventive care is a flexible, individualized screening approach. In this approach, an individual could be screened for selected health problems during a generally flexible range of time period. The precise time is usually chosen by the individual.
For example a certain examination may be due every year while another one due once in 3 years, a third one due once in 5 years and a fourth one due once in 10 years duration. The individual can choose any selected time for the service which is due.
2. Why this shift from annual health check ups to periodic check ups is taking place?
Research has shown that a fixed annual examination has a lot of problems like over testing, over diagnosis, follow up testing and sometimes over treatment. This is applicable across all the age groups. Young and healthy individuals less than 35-40 years of age benefit less from annual examination as compared to individuals over 65 years of age.
3. How does this ongoing shift affect your preventive visits to health center?
If you are young and healthy, this might reduce your preventive visits and test frequency. If you are diseased and/or old this may increase your visits and testing.
4. How does this ongoing shift affect the screening tests that are offered to the individual?
The prevention task forces have also graded the tests from A to D, with a test with grade A having the chances of giving maximum benefit. Thus in future, the ordering doctor may be influenced by the grading and recommendations. The tests with grade A and B are expected to be offered to a larger number of individuals and the numbers for grade C and D would eventually go down.
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