National Call Your Doctor Day: one call can change your life for the better

National Call Your Doctor Day is an opportunity to be reminded, and to remind others, of the importance of preventative care. Many risk factors le...

National Call Your Doctor Day is an opportunity to be reminded, and to remind others, of the importance of preventative care. Many risk factors leading to illness and premature death are preventable. This year on June 8th, we discuss what there is to gain from this phone call.

If you have a chronic condition such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other medical problems, speaking with your doctor about the steps they recommend can reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life.  Seeing your doctor every year for an annual checkup is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help identify potential issues before they start, and early detection of illnesses often leads to more treatment options.

Making an annual trip to your doctor helps you in a number of ways. First, you can make sure you are up to date on your vaccines. People of all ages have to keep up to date on their immunizations. Your doctor can help you track your vaccination history and make important recommendations to keep you protected from dangerous diseases. A cancer screening at your annual appointment will increase your chances of detecting cancer at its earliest possible stages, making it more treatable. On an annual doctor visit you receive an overall health assessment. This provides you with the necessary blood tests and screenings. Combined with taking your family and medical history into account, your blood work can provide up to date information on your risks, your strengths and things to be aware of in the upcoming year.  

These visits are invaluable to your health and it is important to develop a relationship with your doctor. Many people simply visit their primary care physicians during illness or injuries.  However, seeing your doctor for routine checkups enhances your overall health and wellness, giving you the tools, resources and care that you need to continue living your most healthy life. 

So why do people avoid medical care? 

In the past, it was common for some people to never go to their doctor unless they were sick or dying. Now, we see that preventative health care has become a key in early detection of your personal health trends or possible health threats.  This can make the difference in years of your life.  But why might you hesitate to commit to an annual health exam? Perhaps, you have anticipatory fear or anxiety about procedures or bad news? Maybe you have concerns about the time or money? 

The US National Library of Medicine conducted a study on why people might not go to the doctor, even when they have concerns. They found that, “Three main categories of reasons for avoiding medical care were identified. First, over one-third of participants (33.3% of 1,369) reported unfavorable evaluations of seeking medical care, such as factors related to physicians, health care organizations, and affective concerns. Second, a subset of participants reported low perceived need to seek medical care (12.2%), often because they expected their illness or symptoms to improve over time (4.0%). Third, many participants reported traditional barriers to medical care (58.4%), such as high cost (24.1%), no health insurance (8.3%), and time constraints (15.6%).” 

Millions of people have been putting their long-term health at risk by avoiding calls to their general practitioners during the coronavirus pandemic.  During these unsure times, it could be even more difficult to call your doctor and get that much needed appointment. 

One solution to this problem are the ever growing options in telehealth. People can schedule virtual doctor visits to address concerns or even have an annual appointment.  There has been a huge rise in virtual doctor visits.  

The Canadian federal government even began providing funding to expand online access to health care. CBC News reported, “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more than $240 million in funding to expand the capacity for virtual health care by, among other things, creating digital platforms and apps and improving access to online mental health supports. Moving some services online could ease the burden on the health care system when patients don't need to see their family physician, pediatrician or nurse practitioner in person. Dr. Danielle Martin, a family physician with Women's College Hospital in Toronto, has been delivering virtual care as part of COVID-19 precautions. She says she's watched an "explosion" in virtual delivery of primary and specialty care across Canada and globally.” This rise in telehealth could be a solution if it has been difficult for you to get to your doctor. Of course, if it is possible to get an in person appointment for a health concern or an annual exam that option is still seen as more thorough and may provide you with a more well rounded exam. 

On Call your Doctor Day (and every day) you should feel empowered to advocate for your own health. Don’t brush off a health concern, or assume something will get better over time. There could be a simple solution to discomfort or symptoms that an expert can provide you with. Also, something that seems small, may be the key to reaching your healthiest self. As for the time or the cost, chronic or untreated illness or disease will take more of your time and money than a routine health exam. Whether you are an annual appointment maker or ready to call your doctor for the first time in a long time, find the support you need by joining our Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together group.