Make These Post-Pandemic Healthcare Appointments a Priority

Posted by Century Support Services on Sep 26, 2020

We all want to lead healthier lives. However, keeping up with healthcare appointments can be overwhelming: It often seems like it’s always time to go to the doctor for one reason or another. In the COVID-19 era when concerns about safety and social distancing are paramount, the thought of spending time in waiting rooms can be even more worrisome. Still, while it may be advisable to delay some non-urgent medical appointments until the virus subsides, experts caution that while the world might have come to a standstill, as a result of the pandemic, diseases did not.

Which begs the question: Which health appointments can wait and which should you be keeping? Here’s a closer look at some things to keep in mind, including which visits experts agree can’t wait.

A Case-By-Case Basis

In the early days of the pandemic, most healthcare practitioners recommended the postponement of routine checkups, preventative screenings and electric surgeries. However, these delays were a short-term response to an emerging crisis. Now, with the easing up of stay-home requirements, many people are finding that it’s not immediately obvious how to prioritize their healthcare appointments as doctors’ offices open up.

The best resource for determining which appointments should happen sooner and which can continue to wait? Your physician. Professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan A. Mark Fendrick, M.D., told AARP that these decisions should be made on an individual basis with input from your healthcare team, who can help evaluate the risks and benefits of in-person visits. “Having that ability to be in touch with your clinician and make decisions with them” is the best way to determine whether you should be seen in the office and for what, Fendrick says.

Experts Say: Keep These Appointments

While your doctor is an invaluable touchpoint in deciding which types of care can wait and which require immediate attention, experts do agree that certain visits and types of care belong at the top of the list These include:

  • Emergency room visits

  • Vaccine visits

  • Quality of life-boosting surgeries

  • Cancer screenings and follow-up cancer screenings

  • Visits for chronic conditions requiring in-person monitoring

  • Dental visits

  • Physical therapy

  • Blood tests

Even if you were initially advised to delay an appointment, avoiding further delays isn’t just important, it may save your life. According to surgical oncologist and chief medical and scientific officer at the American Cancer Society William G. Cance, M.D., many Americans will receive delayed cancer diagnoses this year, which may lead to thousands of extra deaths over the next decade. So while a brief delay may be okay for most people, a prolonged delay — or one where there’s a family history or new symptoms — can be life-threatening. Because of this, doctors also underscore the importance of being your own advocate to avoid being pushed to the back of the queue.

“Safety” is a word we use a lot these days — primarily in the context of COVID-19. However, while the pandemic may be getting the lion’s share of attention, many other threats to human health and wellness exist — some of which grow progressively worse without prompt screening, diagnosis and treatment.

The good news is that you don’t have to make critical decisions about post-pandemic healthcare visits on your own. In an interview with The Washington Post, internist and president of the American College of Physicians Jacqueline W. Fincher, M.D., reiterated the paramount role of primary care providers in the process. Because even though social distancing mandates may keep us physically separate, “You don’t have to be your own doctor; you don’t have to make these decisions in isolation,” insists Fincher.