As a primary care physician, I recommend that most of my patients see me every 6 months. Usually in the Spring around now, and in the Fall no later than November. April and October are ideal, with one of these being the annual physical.
There are lots of reasons for this.
Spring gives doctors a chance to get a jump on chronic conditions, like blood pressure, cholesterol, and obesity. My organization does its annual Spring push to see folks: catalog problems at the start of the year, have the rest of it to fine tune. Before doing this, some people would go years between visits for their conditions — and when you’re deliberately not looking at a medical problem, it tends to drift worse, not magically improve.
Six months later in the Fall is pre-flu season (influenza usually visits us between November and February). A Fall visit lets me do another chronic condition check and final tune-up, plus giving patients access to a flu shot before the flu season hits (the ideal month for a flu shot is October).
Most medication refills for stable conditions last for 6 months: a 90-day supply plus an additional refill. A Spring-Fall cycle ties refills to the follow up appointments, ensuring that the refills are appropriate. A Summer-Winter cycle pulls you into the office during the middle of the Winter cough and flu season — every year (#NoBueno).
My physician assistant and I are doing telehealth appointments as well as in-person visits, so if a Winter visit works better and it makes sense to do it by video, the seasonality won’t matter. And pandemic permitting, we’ll continue to see people year-round, so if for whatever reason a Summer-Winter cycle works best for patients’ schedules, we can make it work.
The point is that there’s a periodicity to optimally tuning up your health and fitness. Bare minimum, you and your healthcare provider should be looking soulfully into each other’s eyes twice a year — if your condition needs it, it may be every 3 months or more often — while your doctor discreetly notes your biomarkers, your mood, and your progress on your health and fitness goals. If you’re dialed-in, the check in visits should be brief and you’ll hear reassurances like “awesome,” “great,” and “keep doing what you’re doing.”
If you’re here and it’s clear that you really should be over there, the appointments are opportunities to discuss why that is and to craft a plan to get you moving in the right direction.