How to Make Preventive Care Work for You
By Beth Battaglino, RN, CEO of HealthyWomen
You get a flu shot so you're not bedridden over the winter. You get your cholesterol levels checked to ensure they won't impact your heart. You visit the dentist to help prevent cavities. Preventive care is one of the most important steps you can take to manage your health.
Staying on top of your health helps you feel good, avoid illness, and catch issues before they become bigger problems. When a condition is diagnosed early, it's usually easier to treat. And regular checkups can help you and your health care provider identify lifestyle changes you can make to avoid certain conditions.
There are two main things that can get in the way of keeping up with your preventive care: Not liking your health care provider and not making enough time to follow-through with preventive health care appointments.
To help you squash these things to ensure you stay on top of your preventive care, here is some guidance on how to find a health care professional you love and how to make the time to see them.
How to find a health care professional that meets your needs
The right health care professional is part of a successful preventative care routine. You shouldn't be wondering, “Is this the right health care provider for me?” Seeing a health care professional you're questioning can be hazardous to your health. Yes, they may wear a white coat and a stethoscope, be beloved by your mom and hold a fancy medical degree—but they may not be right for you.
You owe it to yourself to find your dream health care professional. That's especially true when it's a practitioner you and your family see often, such as an obstetrician/gynecologist or a primary care provider. Here are some signs it's time to move on and find a new health care professional.
The office is dirty or messy. You can't see germs, but an office that looks unkempt and gives you a bad vibe could mean that it isn't being sanitized properly.
Your health care professional resists second opinions. A good health care professional should be open and confident about having you double-check your diagnosis and treatment plan. You're entitled to a second opinion.
The office no longer accepts your insurance. If you've been having second thoughts about your provider to begin with, now may be time to look for one who accepts your insurance.
You frequently have a lengthy wait before visits. If you repeatedly wait months for an appointment or hours in the waiting room, it can damage your relationship.
Your health care professional overprescribes antibiotics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three antibiotic prescriptions in the United States is unnecessary. These lifesaving drugs can lose their effectiveness if they're used inappropriately.
Your health care professional isn't listening to you. They should maintain good eye contact, nodding and facing you, even when they are entering information into files or scanning your chart.
Your health care professional orders too many tests. They should do what's in your best interest medically. Learn more about if it’s time to find a new health care professional.
How to make time to schedule screenings
Taking care of yourself isn't selfish or self-indulgent. Focusing on your own health and well-being will lower your stress, not add to it. Managing your health and your family's is non-negotiable.
Find a health care professional you can see regularly for day-to-day problems and who can help coordinate your care with specialists when needed. You might consider sharing a family health care provider with your kids. That makes it simpler to treat a household virus or keep an eye on that heart condition you passed down to your daughter. Even if you keep your own health care professional, schedule your wellness exam when you book your kids' checkups.
When choosing a health care professional, scope out some basic policies: whether it's possible to get a same-day visit, how long patients usually have to wait for a routine checkup and whether you can make those appointments and access your records online. Check out finding time to schedule screenings.
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