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Preventive Care: Saving the Health of Your Patients


Specializes in Nurse Case Manager, Professor, Freelance Writer. Has 20 years experience.

Learn how to help your patients with preventive care

Did you know that only about half people in the United States see their doctor for preventive care? The lack of routine care can increase your risk for chronic health and even break your bank account. Discover the importance of preventive care and how three ways nurses can help.

Preventive Care: Saving the Health of Your Patients

According to Lively’s Wellness & Wealth report, only 54% of adults see their doctor for preventive care. Another 28 percent only head to the MD when sick, and a whopping 18 percent only see a provider when they consider their health-related problem to be catastrophic. The study also revealed that as people age, they do seem to go to the doctor more. However, could the increase in visits be related to the lack of preventative care during their younger years?

Another portion of Lively’s study looked annual income to be a reliable indicator of the likelihood to engage in preventative healthcare. It’s probably not surprising to learn that wealthier adults are more likely to go to the doctor compared to those in lower-income brackets. About 60 percent of people who make over $50K a year attend preventative appointments. While less than half of people making salaries below $50K each year participate in regular doctor appointments.

Healthcare Costs and Bankruptcy

Not going to the doctor when you’re younger could set you up for more than just poor health as you age. A CNBC article published in February reported that two-thirds (530,000 families) of all people who file bankruptcy report that medical issues were a key contributor. Individuals who filed bankruptcy cited both the direct healthcare costs and lost wages from time off of work as reasons that they had to file for bankruptcy.

Many experts and lawmakers hoped that implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would improve the issue of financial problems related to healthcare costs. However, it doesn’t seem like it has. The ACA increased the number of Americans who had health insurance. However, the number of people who said that medical expenses were a reason for their bankruptcy increased from 65.5 percent to 67.7 percent in the three years following the adoption of the ACA.

Can Preventive Care Help Save Your Health and Money?

Young people in America today need to learn a valuable lesson from older adults. Avoiding health-related concerns may mean that you have to spend a few dollars on a copay or prescription medication. But, allowing health problems to linger and exacerbate can be a pricey mistake.

To illustrate the issue, let’s consider the symptoms of a nagging cough. If you head to the doctor, you may pay $25-$40 dollars in a copay and another $10 to $50 for a prescription. However, if you wait until the cough turns into pneumonia, you could spend thousands of dollars on an emergency room visit, labs, medications, and radiology fees.

3 Ways Nurses Can Increase Preventive Care

Nurses play a crucial role in care strategies and implementation. We often think of ourselves as caring for people when they’re ill. However, arming your patients with the information they need to be healthy today may keep them in a state of wellness for years to come. Here are a few ways nurses can help increase the use of preventive care services.

1 - Teach Self-Care Strategies

Chronic illnesses are challenging, but patients need to understand the importance of going to the doctor before they get sick. You should also be asking patients about their immunization status and reviewing records each time you see them in the hospital or clinic. Vaccines are an excellent strategy to keep patients well and increase care outcomes.

2 - Identify At-Risk Patients

We screen patients all the time for multiple conditions, but what happens to that information? If you complete an admission and identify a patient that is high risk for cardiovascular problems or that they have a higher than average risk of developing diabetes, communicate this to them and their providers. Empower patients to seek preventive care for chronic conditions they are at risk of developing.

3 - Educate the Community

Many organizations offer free or reduced-rate screenings, immunizations, and clinics. Be sure to share these events in your facility and your Facebook or Twitter accounts to increase the event’s reach. You can also volunteer at Health Fairs or other activities that raise awareness of specific conditions and provide education on healthy lifestyles.

Keeping Your Patients Healthy

What preventive health strategies do you use with your patients that other nurses could use in their practice? Share your ideas below to create a healthier America.

Melissa is a professor, medical writer, and business owner. She has been a nurse for over 20 years and enjoys combining her nursing knowledge and passion for the written word. She is available for writing, editing, and coaching services. You can see more of her work at www.melissamills.net.

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1 Comment(s)

Most Americans don’t come from money which is why they don’t go to the doctor. Preventative care is not on the radar of those struggling to make ends meeet.