Going to the doctor’s office for a routine checkup is usually fairly boring. But it’s a far better option than making an emergency trip to the hospital.
Keeping up with regular visits to the physician, eye doctor, and your specialists can be irritating. But doing so will save you a lot of:
- Money – Preventative care visits are often free or require only a small co-pay. Visits to the emergency room and hospital stays will no doubt cost much more.
- Time – Your doctor’s visit may mean a long wait, but it’s better to get it over with than to sit in a hospital for multiple days!
- Pain – Preventing illness is, of course, going to be much easier than dealing with it later.
Of course, organizing all those visits and your medical information requires a bit of thought. Here are some strategies for taking care of it all:
Make a list of doctors and specialists you need to visit and how often. For example, you probably see your primary care physician once a year for a physical, your gynecologist once a year for an exam, your eye doctor, etc. If you don’t already have them scheduled, go ahead and call now to make appointments by phone. Mark your calendar with the date and time. Then, at each appointment, make the appointment for the following year so that you can put it on your calendar and not have to worry about it later.
- For appointments that occur less frequently than each year, mark your calendar or create a reminder to call and make that appointment.
- Save your doctor’s office phone numbers as contacts in your phone. That way, you don’t have to look up the number and if they call, the office name will show up on your caller ID.
Have trouble fitting doctor appointments into your professional or personal schedule? Consider implementing one or more of the following ideas:
- On a month that has five Fridays, take the last Friday off and schedule one or more doctor appointments.
- Schedule the first appointment of the day. The doctor is more likely to be on time and you’ll get done quicker.
- Check for holidays your company observes on which your doctor may be open. Suggestions include: Veteran’s Day, Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Day, or President’s Day.
Some appointments require some extra planning.
- For example, if you will have your eyes dilated at the ophthalmologist, you may want to ask a friend to drive you home.
- Ask how long the appointment is expected to take. Routine checkups should be less than one hour, but other care may take longer.
These days the doctor will send your prescription straight to the pharmacy for you. If you don’t plan to fill it immediately, you can ask them to hold the item.
- If you take a medication for a chronic condition, or some other medicine that you always take, set up automatic refills. Pharmacies can call, text, or email you each month when they are ready for pickup. You can do this in person or log in online to set this up and manage your other prescriptions.
- Some insurance companies prefer you use mail for regular prescriptions and will charge you less for it. If your company does so, they will mail you the information. Set this up to save money and time.
Things You Should Know
You may have regular checkups with your doctor, but some types of health exams only occur at certain times in your life. Here is a short guideline. This list is not comprehensive; be sure to ask your doctor about future health checkups.
Mammogram – According to the latest research, a mammography screening for most women is recommended starting at age 50. These exams should continue every two years through the age of 74.
Colon Screening – Beginning at age 50, both men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should be screened for cancer and polyps. The frequency of the exam depends on the type. Those at high risk should be screened more often. The American Cancer Society has more information.
Prostate – Men should get a prostate check every four years.
Immunizations – Adults need to be immunized, too. What shots you need depends on your age, health conditions, and travel expectations. The CDC has a nice chart, with versions by age and health condition.