IDAHO — All across the nation doctors are seeing a decrease in people making and keeping routine care appointments.
These checkups are where doctors check for cancer and other chronic illnesses.
“What we are noticing is that people are holding off first of all in getting some routine care appointments taken care of,” said Executive Medical Director of Regence BlueShield, Dr. Jim Polo.
Routine checkups help identify problems early, whether it be cancer, diabetes, or any other illness. Delaying these appointments could lead to more problems down the road or even your cancer spreading to other parts of the body.
“When we go in for routine care, very often it’s when we do routine screenings, so we can identify things early if we don’t identify things people might have things going on that they don’t realize and unfortunately if you don’t catch things early they can have worse of an outcome,” said Polo.
One common example is high blood pressure.
“It's very common and easy to treat. But the problem is if you don’t go in for your routine checkups when they test your blood pressure you wouldn’t know it because you don't feel different," he said. "But, if you don’t treat high blood pressure over time you can have problems with your heart, your lungs and other issues down the road.”
Doctor's offices and hospitals are completely safe, but he says if you have concerns you should call them ahead of time because a lot of them are seeing sick patients in the morning and routine care patients in the afternoon.
“Ask your provider, ask your physician, 'What should I be coming in for?' and 'When is the best time, what days should I come in, what time should I set up my appointment for?' that way people will feel more secure and they're going to be protected,” said Polo.
Prior to COVID-19, Dr. Polo said that they would see patients coming in because they just didn't feel right. Now he said that people aren't paying attention to warning signs and seeing their doctor when they need to.
“People are very in tune with their body if something doesn’t feel right if something hurts the first thing they should do is call their doctor," he said. "They should explain what it is they are feeling and explain what it is that they are sensing and get some advice.”
Paying attention to warning signs and routine checkups are crucial in catching problems earlier, so they are easier to treat and cure.