An ounce of prevention = a pound of cure

Emory Report | Feb. 17, 2021

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Taking time for a preventive health exam each year can have far-reaching benefits, with no out-of-pocket costs for employees on an Emory medical plan.

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It may be a cliché, but an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure when it comes to an annual preventive exam.

An annual preventive exam identifies potential health issues in the early stages when they may be easier and less costly to treat. Early detection of medical problems, illnesses and diseases helps your doctor provide proactive care and treatment. Your primary care provider can also help coordinate any tests or vaccinations that are right for you.

When you have an annual preventive exam, it generally includes:

  • Checks of vital signs such as temperature and blood pressure
  • Heart and lung exams
  • Head, neck and abdominal exams
  • Checks of muscle strength, balance and reflexes

Emory family medicine physician Tina-Ann Thompson says, “The annual preventive exam is a time to review the health concerns that have come up over the last year. It is a time to be sure that immunizations, routine health screenings and physical and mental health concerns are addressed. It is best to find out if there have been any changes in family history because certain routine screenings need to be done earlier if there is a family history. It needs to be annual because recommendations change, our bodies change and early detection of illnesses is best.”

Pamela Briggs, service line manager in Emory’s Diagnostic Treatment Center, is one example of how a preventive exam can help your health.

As someone who has had high cholesterol levels for many years, Briggs began taking medications prescribed by her physician assistant (PA) after her annual preventive exam. She also began drinking more water and reducing some of her stressors. Taking these steps helped her lower her cholesterol level by more than 100 points.

Briggs notes, “Being able to discuss concerns with my provider and knowing that someone is an advocate to help you stay healthy is really a gift. I have to give a huge shout-out to my PA Heather Prusik. She is amazing and really does want the best healthy outcomes for her patients.”

Prusik is an advanced practice provider with Emory at Decatur Primary Care. As she says, “Annual preventive exams provide both providers and patients dedicated time to talk about health and wellness. This allows assessment of where they are today and where they may be in the future. Together, we can develop plans to change outcomes in a positive, preventive and patient-driven way.”

Another Emory employee, Brandi Merrill, nurse scholar at EMH GI Endoscopy Lab, also sings the praises of her primary care physician (PCP, saying, “I appreciate my PCP because he explains each part of my exam, reviews my medications, asks me questions and ensures my understanding. I trust his knowledge and judgment. Having a primary care doctor is important, but also being knowledgeable about your own health and wellness is critical to one’s quality of life.”

Employees on an Emory medical plan have no out-of-pocket cost for an annual preventive exam.

If you don’t have a doctor and you are on an Emory medical plan, you can search for primary care providers who participate in the Aetna health plans at www.aetna.com/docfind/custom/emory or by calling Aetna at 800-847-9026. Kaiser Permanente members may search for facilities and primary care providers at www.kp.org/doctors or by calling 404-365-0966.

Remember to get your annual preventive exam/annual checkup early in the year and earn a $50 health plan incentive. All Emory employees and spouses who are part of Emory’s medical plan are eligible. For women, a well-adult (or well-woman) visit will count for this incentive. Visit Emory’s webpage on preventive exams to learn more.