I don’t know about you but health and health care can be very overwhelming. We moved to the city 7 years ago and it only became more complicated with many more choices and no personal knowledge of who these people were. My nursing background and experience helped me sort through and at least know a few questions to ask. I thought I would share a few basic thoughts.
1. How are you going to pay for your healthcare? No insurance? Check out your state plans. There is no shame in this. They are in place to help people. If you have insurance look at your plan summary book or go on-line and check out the list of approved providers.
2. What type of provider do you want? A M.D., D.O. Physician Assistant, Nurse Practioner – traditional medicine only, wholistic, some where in-between?
3. Once you have a few providers to choose from ask for references. Ask your family, co-workers, neighbors, ask anybody! When you start hearing the name of a medical group or individual repeatedly that’s a very good sign. Be aware anyone can have a bad experience with anybody at anytime. So hearing one bad story does not mean that that provider is bad but you should use caution.
4. When you call the office to set up your first appointment ask to be sure that they take your payment method, BEFORE you go.
5. When you go, take any and all medical information you have. This includes past immunization record, any lab results and office notes you may have in your possession. This is true even if you do not have any “serious” health conditions. If you don’t have any of your records, get in contact with your old office and sign a release of information so they can send them to your new office. You will need your new office address and/or fax number and your providers name.
6. While at the new office, take note of their hours, their after hours availability and when the phone is actually answered. In our office the receptionists answer from 8:00-5:00 but the nurses answer from 8:30-4:30. What’s their procedure for getting medication refills?
If you approach your provider and his/her team with respect, stating clearly what you need I can assure you they will do their best to help you. You do need to keep in mind that most medical providers (doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practioners) do not schedule exact times to answer questions and do paperwork. They just work on it throughout the day when they have a moment. So even if you call at 8:30 in the morning you may not hear back until much later in the day. In most medical offices they make every attempt to return every phone call on the same day unless it was received in the last hour of service for that day.
What question have you wanted to ask in regard to your care at your local physician’s office?