Whether you only step foot in the doctors’ office once a year for your regular preventive exam, see multiple specialists regularly, or avoid medical care until you feel sick, going to the doctor External Site is probably not something you look forward to. Let’s change that!
No matter your situation, these tips will help simplify your experience and make the most of your doctor visits.
Get personal for your health
When you go to the doctor, would you rather see someone who knows you and your medical history or have to explain a health concern to someone you just met five minutes ago at the urgent care clinic?
Having a personal doctor, also known as a primary care provider (PCP), helps personalize your visits, no matter how frequently or infrequently you see them. That’s because this person gets to know you, your medical history, and your health and wellness goals. They can also help coordinate your care with other providers, which means you have one less thing to worry about. "Primary care providers are trained to have broad knowledge in a wide variety of conditions," says Dr. Patricia Newland, family medicine physician and physician leader at UnityPoint Clinic. "They're responsible for managing your preventive care as well as any chronic or acute care needs." That means you can see them for anything from a run-of-the-mill seasonal illness to a specific health concern.
If you don’t already have a PCP, there’s no better time than now to choose one. Start by finding a few doctor’s offices close to home or work Secure Site in your network with myWellmark®. Then, narrow down who you’d like to see and check their availability.
The most important thing is to choose a PCP who's right for you — someone you can connect to and feel comfortable talking with. Even if you can’t get an appointment with the same provider every time, going to the same office or clinic will help personalize your care.
Stay connected to your care
Having key health information at your fingertips can help you stay engaged and informed about decisions or treatment plans your provider suggests — and be ready for questions they might ask you. Use technology to your advantage and keep track of your medications, symptoms, health habits like diet, exercise, and sleep. You can also include notes and questions so you can refer to them during your visit.
Many provider offices also have patient portals where you can schedule future appointments, request prescription refills, view test results, and message your provider with questions — like those you forgot to ask at your appointment. Some even have pre-visit questionnaires so you can check in ahead of time and make sure all your health information is up to date. The more you engage in your care, the smoother your doctor visits will go.
"During your appointment, make sure you understand your provider and your provider understands you," says Dr. Newland. "Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions if you need something explained to you further or in a different way. Bottom line, always tell your doctor how you feel — especially if you are worried or uncomfortable — remember, your provider is here to serve you."
Know your options for health care
Depending on the reason for your visit, you may not always have to go in person. Talk to your provider if they have a virtual visit option for care.
Also, most Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield members can save time and a trip to the doctor’s office by using Doctor On Demand® External Site, a virtual visit service available on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Physicians at Doctor On Demand can treat (and even prescribe medication for) common ailments like colds and the flu, minor aches and pains, allergies, rashes, and more — it’s like having an urgent care in the palm of your hand. You can also schedule visits for preventive care with the same provider each time, which will help develop a similar patient-provider relationship that you’d have with a PCP.
For health questions or concerns that maybe don’t warrant an in-person or virtual visit, Wellmark members can use BeWell 24/7SM Opens New Window to get answers day or night. You can also use BeWell 24/7 to find a doctor, coordinate appointments, get treatment advice, seek a second opinion, and manage complex care situations. All you need to do is call Eight, Four, Four, Eight, Four, Be Well.
The bottom line
It’s important to make your health a priority, stay on top of preventive care and get the treatment you need. While this advice goes for everyone, it’s especially important for millennials (ages 23 to 38) — now known to be one of the unhealthiest generations, with higher rates of behavioral and physical health conditions across the board.
But it’s not hard to imagine why: Only 68 percent of millennials have a primary care doctor. Many avoid preventive care and instead wait to use urgent care when they’re sick. They’re also twice as likely as other generations to act on non-urgent health advice found online — relying on something commonly referred to as “Dr. Google.”
If you’re a millennial, you can take steps to buck this trend by being more engaged in your health care. Get a personal doctor, don’t wait to seek treatment if you have a concern, and be a savvy health care consumer.
Signing up for a free myWellmark account Opens New Window will help you find complete coverage details, see easy-to-understand claims information, know which doctors are in your network, find cost estimates, read patient reviews, and much more. Plus, you can take all that information on-the-go with the myWellmark mobile app Opens New Window. Get started today — it only takes a few minutes!