Why you should still seek primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

by Dr. Ryan Anderson, MD
June 3, 2020

While COVID-19 may be the health concern at the top of everyone’s mind, other illnesses and medical needs still require timely attention. That’s why our primary care teams have worked hard to maintain the same level of safety and quality as before COVID-19 affected our communities. You can expect us to protect your health whenever and wherever you see us for primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s why.

#COVID-19 shouldn’t delay your medical care. On the #LiveWellHealthy blog, internal medicine physician Dr. Anderson shares why and how you can safely seek #PrimaryCare: https://bit.ly/3dwkpHt

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Minor health concerns can grow into more serious issues when left untreated.

When you delay medical care or ignore symptoms, your condition can quickly get worse and become harder to treat. What you may think is a small health concern could grow into a larger one if you don’t receive care when you need it. A skin rash, for example, may not seem like an urgent reason to see a doctor. But, if that rash represents a minor skin infection, delaying care could cause that infection to become serious. More seriously, if you have chest pain, waiting could result in a heart attack or stroke that leaves permanent damage.

While a phone call with your primary care provider (PCP) may be useful for addressing quick questions, in-person and video visits allow your doctor to see body language and visual cues that can inform a diagnosis. If you aren’t ready to visit your PCP in person, your PCP may be able to diagnose and treat the following illnesses or symptoms using video visits:

  • Allergies
  • Cold and flu
  • Diaper rash
  • Fever
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Head lice
  • Sinus infections
  • Skin rashes
  • Sore throat
  • Sprains and strains
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

…and more.

In cases where labwork or a physical exam may be necessary, your PCP can counsel you on when and where to seek in-person care.

Early detection and treatment results in the best outcomes.

In addition to seeking care for acute conditions, like an infection or injury, your PCP is still here to help you prevent illness. Since disease is most effectively treated when it’s caught early, it’s important to stay on top of routine health care. Staying up-to-date with primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic can help you receive the care you need, allowing you to:

Follow-up with your PCP after an in-person appointment.

If you’ve recently visited your PCP for an acute condition, such as an infection or injury, you may want to follow-up with your provider to make sure it’s healing properly. Talking with a PCP allows you to give an update on your condition and ask any remaining questions. Your provider may provide additional instructions to ensure that your recommended treatment is clear and easy to follow.

Get a prescription refill or discuss how to manage side effects.

When you need a routine refill for a prescription or help managing unwanted side effects from a medication, your PCP can monitor and adjust your medication through in-person or video visits. A visit helps facilitate a conversation about what is and isn’t working well with your current medication. It also allows your doctor to ask questions to determine when an alternative may be beneficial.

Stay up-to-date on preventative care.

Primary care visits help maintain the provider-patient relationship. During your visit, your PCP can help you stay on track for routine screenings, annual physicals, and lifestyle modifications. Doing so can minimize your risk of disease, or at the very least, help you catch something early before it becomes serious and harder to treat. When it’s time for a screening, such as a mammogram, your PCP can advise on when and where you should go in-person to minimize any environmental risks without delaying your care.

Enlist the help of your PCP to make lifestyle changes.

Your PCP is a great partner in helping you maintain overall health and wellness. One of the ways they can keep you healthy using primary care visits is through lifestyle counseling. From diet recommendations and exercise modifications to addressing mental health concerns, your PCP can answer questions, offer advice, and help you formulate a plan for making any necessary changes to your lifestyle.

Review lab and screening results.

After lab work or screenings, your PCP can communicate results and recommendations during a primary care visit. Seeing each other in-person or via video helps to maintain the personal touch while reviewing the outcome of baseline, routine, or follow-up tests, such as:

  • Biopsies
  • Bloodwork
  • Cancer screenings
  • Urine tests

…and more.

It’s safe to see your primary care doctor in the office.

With all of the messages about the importance of “staying home” during the pandemic, you may wonder if it’s safe to seek in-person primary care. At MedStar Health, our primary care and specialty facilities are working hard to keep our offices as safe as they’ve ever been.

Here’s what you can expect when you visit your primary care provider in-person.

Your care team—and you—will be wearing the proper safety gear.

All of our primary care providers, nurses, and staff are dressed in appropriate safety gear to protect themselves and you. We also require all patients and visitors to wear a mask while in the office so. If you don’t have a mask, we can provide you with one.

We thoroughly clean and disinfect every room multiple times each day.

Your health and safety is still our top priority when you seek primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic. All patient exam rooms, waiting rooms, and procedure rooms are cleaned and disinfected at regular intervals throughout the day. We also offer multiple hand sanitizer dispensers throughout every facility so you can keep unwanted germs at bay.

All patients and visitors are screened for COVID-19 symptoms.

We have safety measures in place to ensure MedStar Health medical offices, hospitals, and facilities are the best places to receive care. We’re screening all patients and visitors for symptoms at every facility to minimize the risk of exposure to others.

Appointments and public areas are spaced out to encourage social distancing—but you won’t feel socially distant.

To minimize the number of people in our waiting rooms and public areas, we’re carefully scheduling patients throughout the day. And, when you’re here, you’ll see floor markers, signs, and reconfigured chairs in waiting areas to encourage social distancing. Despite the increased physical distance, you can expect to be treated with the same personalized and compassionate care that we’re known for.

If you aren’t ready to visit us in person, there are other options.

When you’re ready to see us for primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re here, we’re safe, and we’re ready to serve you. But if you aren’t comfortable visiting us in-person yet, your primary care provider is ready to care for you virtually through MedStar Health’s video visits.

What are video visits?

A video visit is a virtual healthcare appointment that allows you to see and talk to a healthcare provider using your smartphone, tablet, or computer. You can schedule video visits just like you would schedule an in-person appointment, and in most cases, they’re covered by insurance.

How to schedule a primary care video visit.

Scheduling a primary care video visit is easy, convenient, and done from the comfort of your own home.

  1. Call your primary care provider or office to schedule an appointment.
  2. When it’s time for your appointment, your primary care provider will send you a link via email or text message.
  3. Using your smartphone, tablet, or computer, click on the link to open up the secure video visit app.

To learn more about what to expect during your video visit, read our patient experience guide.

If you’re experiencing symptoms, have a health concern, or are due for routine care, call your doctor so they can help you with the care you need. You can count on your MedStar Health primary care providers and specialists to deliver the highest quality of care in the safest settings, whether you see us in the doctor’s office or virtually.

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