The importance of a health examination is to screen for diseases, get educated by the doctor about healthy lifestyle choices, get any necessary vaccinations, promote a doctor-patient relationship, and to either establish a baseline or compare a patient's present health with a baseline to assess any changes in health. The frequency of health exams is up to the patient and the doctor to determine.
Health examinations differ from appointments about particular health concerns in that they can be used to screen for symptom-free conditions like high blood pressure, early diabetes and high cholesterol, or simply to reassure patients that they are healthy. What happens during a health exam depends on the particular doctor and the patient's particular needs. A doctor will likely ask what health issues or concerns the patient may have had since the last visit. She also will ask questions about exercise, diet, and drug or alcohol use. Then she will likely listen to the patient's heart and lungs with a stethoscope, take the patient's temperature, height and weight, take the pulse and blood pressure, and examine the patient's body. The doctor may also order blood or urine tests. An annual physical health exam used to be considered routine, but as of 2014, not all doctors see annual exams as necessary for otherwise healthy adults. Some recommend a physical exam at least once every five years.