patient talking with a doctor withn an exam room

What to expect at your primary care visit

Visiting your primary care provider is now virtual or in-person

Health care is changing, and there are new, convenient ways to manage your health. From virtual visits and health management apps to going to a traditional appointment, health care providers and resources are more accessible than ever.

To serve you better, OSF HealthCare now offers more ways for you to manage your health. As a patient, you now have more options for in-person and virtual urgent care options for minor injuries and illnesses, virtual primary care options and better access for the traditional face-to-face office visit.

Mark Meeker, DO, an internal medicine physician with OSF HealthCare, talks about how these changes can affect your health care journey.

“With an eye on safety and convenience, 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. “We want to conveniently increase the touch points between patients and their care teams to enhance the quality of care they receive.”

Whether you choose a virtual or office visit, you’re able 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 trade-off 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.

Virtual visits

man waves at this laptop where a female doctor waves back through a virtual office visit

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 determine if you need to come to the office for a physical examination.

“Virtual visits allow an open line of communication while avoiding unnecessary risks,” Dr. Meeker said, acknowledging that they’re also a great solution when a trip to the office is not convenient.

Office visits

masked female doctor uses a stethescope on a senior woman in an exam room

The traditional health care route will never be replaced. Seeing your provider in-person is essential for good health.

“With a face-to-face 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. “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.

“Acute and chronic illnesses can also lead to physical exam findings that influence our treatment plans, and those have to be looked for and monitored on an episodic basis.”

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. Prepare a list of questions and concerns to discuss with your provider. Your primary care provider is a long-term partner in your health management, so it’s crucial to work with a provider who is right for you and your family and the methods for receiving care.

To learn tips for talking to your primary care provider, click here.

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