It can be easy to postpone or forgo regular check-ups with your doctor if you feel healthy. But making time in your schedule to check in with your health is incredibly important to maintaining your overall well-being and fighting against other diseases. Learn more about the importance of outpatient care and how to make the most of your visits.
What is outpatient care?
Outpatient care, or ambulatory care, refers to any medical appointment that takes place outside of a hospital and doesn’t require an overnight or long-term stay. This can be an appointment with your primary care doctor or any specialist you regularly see, such as an OB/GYN, eye doctor or neurologist.
Ambulatory care appointments do more than just help you monitor your health. They help your doctor address potential health concerns so you can avoid complications that may lead to inpatient care or hospitalization in the future. For this reason, these appointments are often referred to as “preventive care.”
Additionally, your age and health will determine how often you should go to your doctor for a general wellness exam. If you’re younger than 50 and in good health, you can usually go every two or three years. You should plan to make a general check-up appointment every year if you’re older than 50.
How to prepare for a check-up with your doctor
Whether you’re talking with your doctor via a virtual telehealth or in-person visit, it’s important to take time before your appointment to prepare. First, make sure you have a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements you’re currently taking. This will help your doctor ensure your doses are effective and everything is working as it should.
Sometimes, it can be easy to forget why you’re taking a certain medication or what issue in your body it is working to treat. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions and get clarity on each prescription you’re taking.
If you have any specific questions or concerns about something, it can be tempting to do some online research in an attempt to figure out what could be causing your problems. While this isn’t necessarily a bad habit, make sure you’re looking at expert sources, such as WebMD or Healthline. Avoid taking health advice based on things you see on social media or unverified stories shared by people online.
Above all, come to your appointment ready to have an open, honest conversation with your doctor. Your doctor cares about your well-being and won’t judge you for any concerns or questions you may have. Being honest about your lifestyle and health history will help your doctor make sure they’re doing everything they can to keep you healthy.
Why ambulatory care is important for all ages
Staying on top of your health is vital at any age and helps ensure that you will live a long and healthy life. Some specialist visits, such as dental, vision or OB/GYN appointments, should be scheduled much more regularly. If you have a preexisting condition, your doctor(s) will work with you to determine how frequently you need to schedule appointments.
Though check-ups are important at any age, they’re especially critical for young kids and people over age 50. Taking your child to the doctor regularly will help you make sure their development is on track, so don’t hesitate to ask their doctor plenty of questions to make sure everything looks good.
As we age, our bodies change in ways we may not even notice. This is why it’s important to see your doctor regularly as you continue to age. Your body may require different nutrients or exercises over time to keep you strong, so be honest with your doctor if you’re feeling unusually tired, achy or weak.
No matter how old you are, regular check-ups with your doctor will set you on a path to the long, healthy life you deserve. To book an appointment with one of our ambulatory care doctors or learn more about our services, visit ValleywiseHealth.org or call 1 (833) VLLYWSE