UCLA Health Physician Stresses The Importance of Annual Follow Ups

 The New York Times recently published an article pertaining to the importance of following up with one’s physician concerning regular appointments. It states that patients frequently miss appointments and this is becoming a severe issue to the health of American citizens. Experts believe that there should to be new implementation for better documentation, which may help patients keep their track of their scheduled appointments.

A standard procedure, blood pressure check, conducted in most check-ups, as seen here. Photo taken by Leilani Spring Fischbeck. L|P Photography.
A standard procedure, blood pressure check, conducted in most check-ups, as seen here. Photo taken by Leilani Spring Fischbeck. L|P Photography.

Dr. Peter Galier, M.D. is an internist affiliated with UCLA Health Internal Medicine. He has 19 years of experience and is board certified in Internal Medicine. Dr. Galier explains that the primary importance of an annual check up is to keep current with the patient, such as observing any new changes in behavior that the patient may demonstrate.

“An annual check up gives the general doctor a chance to see if anything has changed,” he explains, “like family history; or symptoms accompanied with body symptoms. We check on exercise and diet, evaluate for any unhealthy behaviors like tobacco, drug, alcohol use, check blood pressure,” he continues, “and examine the patient.”

A photo depicting a "no nonsense" physician, as seen here. Photo taken by Leilani Spring Fischbeck. L|P Photography.
A photo depicting a “no nonsense” physician, as seen here. Photo taken by Leilani Spring Fischbeck. L|P Photography.

The New York Times Article highlights a recent study that shows 5-55% of patients do not show up for their scheduled appointments. Some ideas about why the appointments are missed range from simply forgetting, to not being reminded, as well as not being able to get an appointment that fits the patient’s schedule, according to Barron Lerner, MD., author  of “When Patients Don’t Follow Up”. Furthermore, Dr. Lerner believes that improving documentation will help to improve the follow up appointment issue the healthcare system currently faces. In addition, the University of Wisconsin has found that making reminder phone calls has helped improve patient follow up statistics.

In addition, Dr. Galier stresses the importance of following up with appointments. He and addresses that it is the primary responsibility of the patient to make sure that they follow up with their scheduled appointment.

“It is the responsibility of the patient, or their support system. We are responsible to explain to them the need, the importance, and arrange a follow up appointment when they are here,” he states, “and many patients don’t make an appointment at that time.”

Consequently, in addition to following up regularly with one’s physician, Dr. Galier encourages his patients to live healthier lives through diet and health maintenance before the problems arise.

A standard exam, checking the ear canal for things such as ear wax buildup, etc. as seen here. Photo taken by Leilani Spring Fischbeck. L|P Photography
A standard exam, checking the ear canal for things such as ear wax buildup, etc. as seen here. Photo taken by Leilani Spring Fischbeck. L|P Photography

“Take responsibility for diet, exercise and health maintenance issues before you get ill. Once you have a disease,” he explains, “pay attention to your doctors advice, and be compliant with treatments.”

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