patient talking with a doctor withn an exam room

What to expect at your primary care visit

In order to expand access to health care, OSF HealthCare has developed more options for you to manage your health. We have increased in-person and virtual urgent care options for minor injuries and illnesses, virtual primary care options and the traditional face-to-face office visit.

But even with all of these changes, the core examination has remained the same. Mark Meeker, DO, an internal medicine physician and vice president of Community Medicine for OSF HealthCare, talks about what to expect during your next office visit.

“With an eye on safety, health care clinicians are providing different and convenient ways for you to manage your health and connect with your physician or advanced practice provider,” Dr. Meeker said.

Both types of visits allow you to discuss a variety of topics, including:

  • Chronic illness management
  • Coordinating care with other specialists
  • Lab results
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medication renewals or changes
  • Mental health
  • New physical issues or concerns
  • Recommendations for health screenings

The major drawback to a virtual visit is the lack of in-person interaction. Being in the same room allows your primary care provider (PCP) to get a sense of your overall well-being and do a hands-on physical examination.

However, if you haven’t experienced any new symptoms or have any concerns, a virtual visit is a safe and convenient alternative to meet your overall health goals, Dr. Meeker said. But it doesn’t completely replace the need for an office visit.

No matter which type of visit you choose, you should prepare a list of questions and concerns to discuss with your PCP.

Virtual visits

man waves at this laptop where a female doctor waves back through a virtual office visitDuring a virtual visit, you meet with your PCP via a smartphone, tablet or computer.

The first step is to start or sign in to your OSF MyChart account. You will go through a registration process where you will need to enter your personal and insurance information. You may be required to take a picture of certain documents, ID and insurance card, and upload them to your account, so have this information available.

A nurse or assistant will then do a basic health assessment before your clinician joins the video call.

Your PCP will still be able to order lab tests, refill prescriptions and decide if you need to come to the office for a physical examination.

“Our main goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy. Virtual visits allow an open line of communication while avoiding unnecessary risks,” Dr. Meeker said.

Office visits

masked female doctor uses a stethescope on a senior woman in an exam roomAt OSF HealthCare, safety is always our top priority.

We follow the guidelines of state and federal public health agencies to ensure we are doing everything we can to provide care in all of our facilities safely. This is especially true during times of increased community risk, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

While office visits are the same as before the COVID-19 pandemic, one big difference is the pre-visit screening.

A member of your clinician’s office may call you the day before your visit and ask you a series of COVID-19 related questions. In addition, when you arrive for your appointment, the staff will take your temperature and again ask you COVID-19 screening questions.

If you have a COVID-19 risk, the staff will assess your situation and determine the best course of action.

“With an office visit, I can examine your heart, ears, head and neck, lungs, stomach and throat to see if you have any pain or trouble in those areas,” Dr. Meeker said. “It’s important to do a body examination from time to time because problems can arise that don’t have symptoms and may go unnoticed.

“In-person visits also allow us to take an accurate body mass index, heart rate and blood pressure readings. Often, with something like high blood pressure, there are no signs or symptoms.”

Don’t forget to bring a valid photo ID, insurance card, medical history and a list of your medications.

No matter which type of visit you choose, be an active participant. Your primary care provider (physician or APP) is a long-term partner in your health management, so it’s crucial to select a provider who is right for you and your family and the methods for receiving your care.

About Author: David Pruitt

David Pruitt is a writer for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare. He has a bachelor’s of journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and worked as a reporter before joining OSF HealthCare in 2014.

An avid golfer and fisherman, David was born and raised Alton, Illinois, which is where he currently resides with his son, James.

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Categories: General, Preventive Health, Wellness