Survey: Is It Time to Abandon the Annual Checkup?

September 28, 2007

Take this MedPage Today poll examining the costs -- in dollars and manpower -- of preventive health visits.

Only about 20% of recommended preventive services such as mammography and cholesterol screening take place during annual well-patient visits to the doctor, according to an analysis of more than 8,400 checkups reported in the Sept. 24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. (See: Preventive Health Examinations Offer Few Preventive Services)

Yet, the annual cost for the estimated 64 million Americans who had preventive health visits during the study period was about .8 billion.

Looking at the available physician supply and the average time spent on a preventive visit, the investigators wrote determined that if every adult were to have an annual checkup, those visits would "account for 41% of all direct patient time for primary care physicians."