A health evaluation identifies specific concerns with a patient’s health, or indicates that someone is generally healthy. It may be required or recommended before engaging in certain activities and can be part of patient intake at a new medical practice. Information from an evaluation can shape the treatment provided and may help identify specific risks that should be discussed to prevent future health problems. Some evaluations can be filled out by patients, while others involve feedback from a medical professional who can take measurements, order tests, and offer an informed opinion.
Basic physical examinations may be needed to prove fitness before enrolling in school, joining a fitness team, or traveling in association with work, depending on policies. In this type of health evaluation, basic demographic information is collected, including gender, height, and weight. The patient may be asked some questions about medical history to identify risks like a family history of cancer or a smoking habit. A positive evaluation indicates the patient is healthy and ready, or cleared to participate despite a health issue, while negative results mean there is something wrong.
Medical practices can also use a health evaluation as a patient intake tool. It allows them to collect important patient history that may assist with diagnosis, treatment, and recommendations. For example, if a patient has a family history of colon cancer, this might impact when a medical professional recommends colonscopies to check for early signs of cellular changes. Similarly, a patient who exhibits signs of emotional distress might be advised to seek a more intensive evaluation with a mental health professional to check for a psychiatric condition.
Evaluations can involve physical examinations, collection of fluid and tissue samples, and medical imaging studies, depending on how much information is needed. If a test is necessary to provide a complete picture of the patient’s health, it may be recommended, although the patient can opt out. Some tests are required by policy; for example, a work physical may include a drug test as part of the health evaluation, and patients cannot decline the test if they want to start work or remain employed.
Patients with specific health concerns can bring them up during an evaluation. They may discuss symptoms they’ve experienced recently, family history concerns, or any other pertinent issues. Information from a health evaluation is confidential unless a patient specifically authorizes release, making it a safe environment to discuss issues like abuse or bullying if a patient is not sure about who else to approach for help.