While Coronavirus cases appear to be decreasing across the country, according to experts, hospitals and medical institutions are still at their breaking point. On average, two out of every five Americans live near a hospital with an ICU that has run out of beds, according to the CDC. And many are running low on space, supplies, and personnel. We know there is still a long way to go, but we also know there is light at the end of the tunnel. President Biden and his administration have set a goal to vaccinate 100 million Americans in 100 days.
We may have to hold out until mid-year for things to normalize, but for those of us who have been delaying important medical procedures, plastic surgeries, and post-treatment follow-ups with our oncologists, a new problem looms on the horizon: backlogged appointments. If it was difficult to get on our doctor’s schedule in the pre-COVID-era, we can only imagine that their schedules are already filling up. In order to stay proactive about our health, we’ve outlined a few tips on how to schedule our healthcare in 2021, below.
Put Pen to Paper.
Whether we’re considering reconstructive surgery or speaking with a doctor about treatment options, appointments are always more productive when we go in with a plan. Researching our options in advance or speaking with someone who has walked a similar path is a great way to approach these meetings with direction. We can also create a vision board, draft a pro/con list or outline specific health goals in a journal. Either way, manifesting is easier with a manifesto.
Plan Ahead. Book in Advance.
While we may still be months out from ‘normalcy,’ it’s time to start calling ahead and getting on our doctors’ calendar. And while we’re at it, let’s plan for multiple visits. Establishing an annual calendar of preventative health checks, routine care and follow-up, and medication management is a great way to ensure we don't miss important appointments and screenings. And knowing that we've dotted all of our i's and crossed all of our t's is a wonderful expression of self care.
Have a Back-up
Prior to 2020, a survey of General Practitioners (GPs) discovered that doctors recommended only seeing about 30 patients each day. In reality, the average General Practitioner was seeing between 41 and 60. Though difficult, asking for a referral to another physician is an option to be considered. Emotional ties and established trust might hold us back, but often, medical teams work in tandem in an effort to support each other and their community. Having an alternate provider who is willing to communicate with our caregiver can shorten the wait between visits.
Establish a Diagnostic Game-plan
Healthcare emergencies that come up without warning will require a different option. Reactions to treatments, sudden or new symptoms and illnesses all need to be addressed in real time. While emergency rooms and ICUs are still struggling to treat COVID patients at this time, our doctors can help us navigate our options, as they may need to look different until things settle down. This conversation is an important one to have with our primary doctors as soon as possible so that we can be prepared for whatever lies ahead. Our mantra? Expect the best, and be prepared for the worst.
Waitlist. And Follow Up.
Many medical professionals maintain a waitlist or an on-call physician. But our best bet is to work with the team managing the appointments for our providers. Not all online scheduling tools work well for doctors, and often, a simple phone call goes a long way. Checking in, following up, and asking if there is an alternative solution when we can’t see our provider may improve our chances of being seen.
Take Small Steps
Roadblocks are bound to happen this year. As the entire world begins the process of recovering from COVID-19, new setbacks and struggles will arise. These, too, will pass and we’ll take them one day at a time. We’ll take small steps, together, with kindness towards ourselves as we go. We may even find some silver linings along the way.
“Have a bias towards action – let’s see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away.” – Indira Gandhi Everee