Medical Consultations During COVID-19: What to Do About Your Doctor's Appointment

medical consultations during covid-19 schedule doctor's appointment visit dr

So far we've seen tens of millions of cases of COVID-19 around the world and millions of deaths. And unfortunately it's climbing daily, even with vaccines being discovered, distributed, and injected. As the outbreak continues to spread, everyone is doing what they can to stay healthy and safe.

You've probably already canceled birthday parties, family vacations, and school events, but what about your doctor's appointment? 

Many people aren't sure if, or even when, they should see a doctor. In this guide, we'll review everything you need to know and do regarding your appointment.

Keep yourself and your family safe with these tips on setting up your doctor's appointment during a pandemic!

Non-Essential Procedures

On March 18, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made an announcement regarding non-essential medical procedures. According to the CMS, healthcare providers should delay all non-essential procedures for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Limiting all unnecessary appointments frees up personal protective equipment, ventilators, and beds. Reducing the number of people at a doctor's office at any given time minimizes the risk that the virus will spread, too. Instead, patients are encouraged to remain home unless it's an emergency. 

By postponing non-essential doctor's appointments, surgeries, and dental procedures, healthcare providers can keep you and their staff safe.  

It's important to note that this decision is being made on a local level. Your doctor's office may or may not decide to close. They might only allow appointments based on emergency needs.

Should I Go to the Doctor?

Whether or not you go to the doctor depends on your needs. Are you feeling ill?

It can also depend on:

  • How old you are
  • What the doctor's appointment is for
  • Your physician's recommendation
  • How stressed your local health care providers currently are

You might also want to weigh the risk of a routine doctor visit. Is your area reporting a lot of COVID-19 cases? If so, it's likely safer for you to stay at home.

There's a chance you already received a phone call or email from your healthcare provider. If not, make sure to call them as soon as possible. You'll want to verify that their offices are still open before the day of your appointment. 

What to Do During the Outbreak

If your doctor's office is still open and taking patients, you might consider keeping your appointment. However, there are a few steps you can take first to minimize your risk. Here are a few things you should do before your doctor's appointment.

1. Call Before You Go

Many patients don't require urgent care but still want to visit the doctor for a routine doctor visit. If you're unsure about whether or not to go, call your doctor's office beforehand.

First, you want to make sure their office is still open. Otherwise, you could risk making a trip for nothing.

Prioritizing social distancing can help reduce the risk that you'll contract the virus. Social distancing also keeps people who are unknowingly carrying the virus from spreading it to others. 

This is essential for patients with lung or cardiovascular disease. Patients with immune disorders are at extreme risk, too. If you have one of these health conditions, your doctor might suggest you stay home. 

Patients who are over the age of 60 and are at higher risk of contracting the disease should stay home, too. Instead, touch base over the phone.

Are you experiencing mild symptoms? If it doesn't seem related to coronavirus, call your doctor and let them know. Each doctor's office might have their own next steps for medical situations that aren't related to COVID-19. 

Call your doctor's office to determine how they're reacting to the coronavirus. They might want to postpone your doctor's appointment for a month or two. If your appointment was for something urgent, however, they might provide an alternative.

2. If You Have Coronavirus Symptoms

Let your healthcare provider know if you're experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms. They'll likely suggest you stay home for 14 days or until your symptoms are gone. If you begin experiencing new symptoms, however, make sure to call your doctor back. 

Anyone experiencing new symptoms or who are living with a condition like congestive heart failure might need to see their doctor in person. Let your doctor know if you're concerned or unstable. They might consider it worth the risk of you visiting in person. 

If you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, call your doctor and let them know you need medical care. They'll likely tell you to avoid the doctor's office or the emergency room unless it's an emergency. Staying at home will keep everyone safe.

The CDC urges anyone with mild coronavirus symptoms to stay home and self-isolate. Ask your medical provider if they offer COVID-19 testing. However, it's important to note that there still isn't treatment available for the virus.  

3. Ask About eCare

It's probably best to cancel your appointment if it's a routine doctor visit. Remember, you want to minimize your risk as much as possible. 

Otherwise, ask your medical provider if they offer virtual medical care. Many doctor's offices are continuing appointments over the phone or through video chats. If you can schedule a virtual doctor's appointment, make sure to:

  • Explain your symptoms
  • Reschedule any future routine appointments
  • Request prescription refills

Make sure to ask about any medications you're currently taking and if you still need to take them. Your doctor can either refill your prescription over the phone or send in an electronic request to your pharmacy. 

Your doctor might also have a medical answering service set up. If you're a healthcare provider, you can learn more about the options available for your patients. 

Do you have appointments scheduled for the future? During your virtual appointment, make sure to discuss all future appointments with your doctor. Ask if any of these appointments are necessary in-person or safe to schedule over the phone. 

Telehealth options allow you to receive treatment from the safety of your own home. By staying home, you can reduce your risk of contracting or unknowingly spreading the disease. 

Getting the Help You Need: Navigating a Doctor's Appointment During COVID-19

Discover the help you need, when you need it. With these tips, you can navigate the new medical environment during the coronavirus pandemic with testing, quarantining, masks, social distancing, and vaccines. Make sure to call your medical provider about your next doctor's appointment today. 

Check out the Healthcare section of the Frugal Finance Blog for more helpful tips. We have a wide variety of articles on medical care, doctor appointments, and wellness on a frugal budget!

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