Ep. 53: Top Tips for Post Pandemic Physician Visits
Our world has been changed by the Coronavirus pandemic. And the reality is that it may never be the same. And at least for the time being, this includes obtaining healthcare. As this impacts pretty much everyone, I thought it would be important to share some tips that may be extremely useful as you seek post pandemic physician visits.
Post pandemic? Yeah, I know we are still very much in the middle of this crisis, with perhaps a slight lull in the action. I guess I mean, post shock and hysteria of the Covid19 pandemic introduction. Today we are living in our new reality. A new normal, if you will.
Everyone voices their desire to return to normal. But normal is a relative thing. I do not think this is our final “new normal”, so I usually say, it is our “normal for now”. We need to accept it and find ways to move through it. The mental stress of longing for another time is not a good use of your time or energy.
The purpose of this post is to share some tips on how you can best navigate the healthcare system to make the most of your experience with post pandemic physician visits. We will continue to need healthcare services, and I want to help you avoid experiencing a delay or additional stress because you were not prepared for the new healthcare normal.
I want you to understand that these tips apply regardless of your need for a visit to the physician’s office, an urgent care visit, or emergency room care. The tips I am sharing are based on my personal experience or experiences reported by my colleagues. Hope you find them useful.
Post Pandemic Physician Visits: The tips you need to know
1. We are in this together and must work to help each other
We must protect each other. I fully understand that many people feel that it is their personal decision to do something or not, but you must appreciate that your decisions DIRECTLY impact others.
I remember when smoking cigarettes was acceptable everywhere. It was (and still is) your right to risk cancer and other health ailments. But when we learned about second-hand smoke, everything changed. You no longer had the right to put others at risk. It became clear that your smoking next to me in a restaurant or airplane (yes, imagine those fun times), was risking the health of others and it was stopped. In a similar way, we have learned about the associated risks of Vaping on others besides the user.
This Covid19 pandemic is relatively new and many rules meant to protect others are suggestions and recommendations. But I ask you to consider why they are made. And, instead of automatically expressing your personal desires, please take a minute to understand your role in helping improve post pandemic physician visits.
Let me be corny for a minute and say: There is no “I” in “TEAM”. And of course “Teamwork makes the dream work”. It is corny, but it is true. You cannot navigate this healthcare crisis alone.
2. Telemedicine in some form is here to stay
One way to improve your post pandemic physician visits is by taking advantage of increased telemedicine options. More physicians than ever now offer these visits. They may or may not advertise them, but if you are interested, be sure to ask.
I personally NEVER thought I would participate in this type of healthcare, and then April 2020 the world seemed to shut down. In crisis mode, I waded into the waters of telemedicine and found it to be very useful for my patients. Yes, I was dragged kicking and screaming onto a telemedicine platform, but then I made the decision to make the best of it. I needed to be open-minded and truly experience the platform. And my final result: I didn’t hate it.
No, I do not like it because it does not allow me to practice medicine the way I best am able, but I do see a role for it. I am not as snarky about it now. I have evolved, and you can too. The key to acceptance is to understand the limitations of this type of healthcare, just as you need to understand the difference between visits to your primary physician and emergency room visits. They are not the same. Anticipated results should not be expected to be the same.
3. Don’t neglect your health by avoiding office or emergency room visits
Many people are afraid of interacting with patients who have contracted the coronavirus infection. So, they avoid seeking care that truly is needed. Cancer screenings, monitoring of chronic illnesses, and detection of serious medical conditions have all suffered. Physicians have noted patients coming for evaluation at more advanced stages. Do not do this! Hospitals have set up protocols to continue to effectively treat non Covid19 patients. Please get checked out for these significant medical concerns.
Additionally, parents have opted to keep healthy children at home. This has led to young children missing vital well-child check-ups and needed vaccinations. While we are worrying about the second wave of Covid19 infections, we do not need to worry about new cases of Measles and other preventable illnesses from making a come back.
No, I do not want to debate with the army of anti-vaxxers, I will just reiterate that I have witnessed how effective vaccines are at reducing and eliminating severe infections that I used to routinely treat. It is also worth reminding you that most of the world is anxiously awaiting a Covid19 vaccine to help end this pandemic. So why would we want to stop getting the proven vaccines that ended other healthcare crises?
And while we are on this topic, please remember to get your flu shot this fall to avoid another reason for needing urgent healthcare when the weather changes.
4. Learn and Follow office or hospital rules
Healthcare facilities have done a lot of work to prepare and keep patients and staff safe. They each have created rules that they need to be followed to receive care. Please make sure you ask, review emails sent to you or listen to instructions provided to you so that you are not caught off guard. Not listening or remembering the new Covid19 rules may result in your visit being cancelled or rescheduled.
5. All offices and hospitals do not have the same rules
Do you know how you make a call and a recorded voice starts to tell you what number to press to reach a certain person? And when they tell you to listen closely because the menu options have changed? They are giving the disclaimer that if you ignore them and simply press the button you chose in the past, you may end up in the wrong place.
Well, all physician offices and urgent care center have their own rules, their own menu of options. But you must be aware that the menus/rules are not all the same. Pay attention and follow the rules of the office you are visiting.
6. Complaining changes none of these new rules
Providing excellent healthcare during these post pandemic physician visits has been a constant struggle for many people. The goal is to keep physicians, staff and patients as safe as possible. This is the reason each facility creates the rules that they believe are most effective. We understand that every physician does not have the same office rules, but this also applied before the pandemic arrived.
For instance, just because your pediatrician does not collect your copay does not mean that my office will not. Arguing with my staff about why you believe I should not collect the copay does not change my office rules. I respect other offices who opt to bill patients after the visit, but my office clearly informs my patients that the copay is expected before being seen by the physician.
Well, the same holds true for office rules that govern post pandemic physician visits. It does not matter that another physician does not require patients to wear a mask, or that they allow extra people to attend the visit. What is important is that you know what the rules are for the specific healthcare facility so that you do not experience any unnecessary delays. Complaining that you like another set of rules better is not going to change to the rules of the office. Rules are rules.
7. Things can always be worse, so appreciate the now
Think of those thrilling science fiction movies where the Earth’s atmosphere has been destroyed, and most of human life has been killed. There seems to always be a resilient group of people who live deep underground (or on a moving train as I recently discovered in a new TV series called SnowPiercer).
These ingenious survivors find ways to create and recirculate oxygen in their bunkers and structure a new society to allow them to thrive.
When people travel above ground or go out into the harsh elements, they must wear gas masks, other protective clothing, and carry oxygen tanks. Their particular circumstances are dire, and there is an immediate consequence if they do not wear a mask; death.
So how about reframing the displeasure you might feel about social distancing, wearing a cloth face mask, or continuously washing your hands. Perhaps it might put things in a better perspective if you think: Thank goodness Covid19 did not shut our world down and force us to live underground! Just saying.
The survivors in these SciFi movies seem to have endless hope. We could use a little bit more hope and patience. The scientific community is working tirelessly to develop medications to prevent and treat this wicked disease. In the meantime, it would be best for you to do your part to not make things worse.
8. Post pandemic physician visits will be different for a long time.
None of us have any true idea when we will be able to get back to our normal lives with unlimited gatherings at social and sporting events. Or when we can freely hug one another and shake hands with everyone you meet. Until that happens, you can expect your experiences in healthcare facilities to remain changed. And some of the changes may be permanent. Forever changed.
As always, much love for supporting my work. I will be adding many more posts to highlight parenting and healthcare tips, so be sure to consider subscribing to my podcast or to my blog to avoid missing a post!