Do you feel like managing your family’s doctor appointments is like running an obstacle race that never ends? The list goes on and on; eye exams, dental checkups, annual physicals, mammograms, bone density screenings, etc. These responsibilities can become overwhelming when you don’t create a plan that works for you.
Oftentimes we accept openings based on the doctor’s schedule which is fine if it works with your schedule. However, if you find yourself running back and forth to the same medical facility or have to visit various locations on several days of the month, it’s time to readjust your schedule. The mere thought of the number of exams and follow up visits you have can become daunting especially when you think you have no control.
The majority of my family’s appointments are in the same geographical area. The hospital and the doctor offices are on the same campus with exception of one of my doctor’s office being within a mile radius. This makes it convenient to schedule all of our appointments on the same day since our family medical office has several doctors on staff. If your doctor’s office has more than one doctor, and you don’t mind having another physician other than your primary care physician assess you or your loved one, this option can save time.
If appointments are available within a two-hour block, I recommend taking advantage of the time slots. This arrangement can reduce traveling time and expenses. It also frees up time for you to do other tasks you have scheduled for that day without overextending yourself. If you or a loved one has a medical condition that requires ongoing care and you must visit the doctor several times during the month, try to coordinate the visits on the same day or week.
This process can give you a few days of rest between visits. Sometimes the mental stress of preparing for visits can be more heightened than the actual process of going to the doctor’s office.
If you’re fortunate to have your doctor’s office close to the hospital or inside the hospital, you can also utilize the time between or after appointments to have lunch in the hospital cafeteria. Your appointments may or may not be the best days for you, but lunchtime can help ease the tension for a little while.
Use Smartphone Reminders
The hustle and bustle of visiting doctors can sometimes leave you unorganized. Prior to leaving a doctor’s office, make sure you log the next appointment in your phone’s calendar. Although the medical office assistant will give you a summary of your visit and information about your next appointment on paper, logging the appointment information in your phone is very beneficial. This reduces the possibility of forgetting about the date and time if you lose or misplace the form.
Most people keep up with their phones better than they do paper. When you log appointments in your phone, you can customize alerts to remind you about appointments 10 minutes, one or two days, and even a week in advance. This will keep your mind abreast of what’s scheduled within a few days. If you’re good with keeping all of the information stored in your mind, that’s great.
However, if you’re like me, I often have a hard time remembering several events especially when I’m trying to juggle so many responsibilities every day. If you don’t have a personal assistant to help you, put your phone to work to keep on track.
This will help you manage your time better. You can also plan your budget accordingly if you have to pay doctor office co-pays. These expense can accrue quickly and reduce your personal spending budget if you don’t keep track of how many times you have to visit the doctor every month.
Create Medical Folders
Finally, I recommend creating a medical folder for yourself and your loved ones. Every time you come home from a doctor’s visit, place the summary form and follow up visit information inside a folder. This will reduce the chance of you losing the document, and you will be able to reference information relating to your medical conditions.
By doing so, you will be able to access office phone numbers, medical facility addresses, and doctor recommendations very quickly. Healthcare management is a job within itself. You may not have absolute control over a medical condition, but you can remain calm when it comes to managing the responsibility of meeting the appointment demands.