How to Get the Most out of Your Visit?
Like any service industry, healthcare service often struggles with time crunch. If you have been to doctor's visits once or a few times, you must be familiar with that feeling of not being able to discuss everything you wanted to and get all your questions answered because the doctor was running behind, or multiple patients were waiting for their appointments after you and there was no way everything could be addressed.
So to not get disappointed and get the most out of your visit, consider the following.
1. Set Your Goals:
Status of your health is mostly determined by a combination of your genetic make up, environmental influences and personal choices. Among these, you have most influence over personal choices and preferences. It is important to think about your goals and decide where you fit in the spectrum from being someone who places health on the top of the priority list to someone who has other more pressing things to address and taking care of health is low on the priority list.
Set your health goals. Look at the following three types (Health - Enthusiast, Health - Moderate, and Occasional Visitor) and pick the type that fits you the best.
Your preferences and priorities help develop your health care related action plan.
Eat right and exercise
Get routine check ups and take preventative measures to avoid health related problems
Stay up to date on health related news and trends
Keep track of health over time and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly
View healthcare expenses as long term investment as opposed to extra unnecessary expenses
Eat moderately healthy and sometimes exercise
Get routine check ups but not much more
Follow health professional's advice to some degree
Do not necessarily pay attention to long term consequences of lifestyle on health and aging
Prefer to spend on healthcare related expenses only if a 3rd party (insurance) covers it
Follow SAD (Standard American Diet)
Do not take health very seriously
Prefer to not see a doctor unless have to
Prefer to avoid any screening or preventative exams
View chronic medical conditions as a part of life and aging
Prefer to spend the least on healthcare related expenses
Although the health - enthusiast style is more conducive to producing and
maintaining a good quality of health than the health - moderate and
health - slacker styles, there is no right or wrong style. Personal preferences
and priorities are often shaped by complex circumstances and these evolve
over time. An occasional visitor can transform to a health enthusiast or an enthusiast
may slack some due to any challenges. It is important to know where you are so
that you can align your goals, preferences and action plans accordingly.
2. Make a List of Your Symptoms:
a) Write down a list of symptoms: If possible,
write down a timeline and identifiable triggers
of these bothersome symptoms.
b) Categorize these symptoms: Each organ system
can produce a multitude of symptoms and generally
these go together when an ailment is acquired.
For example, gastrointestinal symptoms include
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain etc.
Respiratory symptoms include cough, shortness
of breath, wheezing, chest pain etc. Neurological
symptoms include headache, dizziness, memory
loss, numbness, tingling etc. If symptoms are
chunked together into systems, it makes it easier
to make diagnoses and save time. So when
describing your symptoms, group them together
within organ systems instead of jumping from one
category or organ system to another. Shown here is a
sample of various symptoms and how these relate
to different organ systems.
c) Prioritize these categories: Depending upon the number of symptoms, it may not be possible to address all in one visit. So prioritize your symptoms and decide which ones you'd like to address first.
3. Organize Your Medical History:
Create a list of all current medical conditions or diagnoses, current medications, current supplements, past medical diagnoses, surgeries and hospitalizations.
4. During Your Visit:
Make sure to ask all questions and clarify all action items. Do the following to reduce number of phone calls after the visit.
a) Obtain your lab results if you are interested in keeping a record. It is generally a good idea to do so because it will help you monitor and take proactive steps to improve your health.
b) Ask for all medication refills during the time of the visit. Even if you do not need some of the refills at the time, ask for all the refills to make sure your medications will last you until the next appointment. This is to reduce any phone calls in between visits and to avoid any confusion.
c) Similarly, ask for any procedures, referrals and screening tests for which you may be due. Review this document or see the chart below under FAQs to determine what health screening test you may need based upon your age and gender.
5. After Your Visit:
Your journey to great health continues after your visit and you are always welcome to stay in touch and reach out for any questions or your health care related needs. While reviewing your lab results, feel free to refer to the page "understanding your lab results" for additional details about individual labs and what these mean. In addition, please refer to the document provided to you at the end of your visit and communicate accordingly.
FAQs about your care:
1. How do I get a refill on my medications?
There are several ways. These are listed below in the order of most preferable to least. First make sure that it is not a medicine for which you need an office visit or one which was never prescribed to you by us. In these cases, schedule a visit.
a) Get all your refills at the time of visit and make sure these will last till your next anticipated visit.
b) Fill out med refill request on www.smarthwc.com .
c) Text/Email the contact which was provided to you at the time of your visit.
d) Call the office or call pharmacy.
2. I need a new medicine which does not exist in my chart and we did not talk about any reason for prescribing this medicine during my visit. Can I still call to get a prescription for this?
If you were never prescribed this medicine by our office and/or we never discussed prescribing this medicine during your visit, please schedule an appointment.
3. I started a new medicine and have started to experience side effects. What should I do?
In this case, stop taking the medicine and contact me. You should have received my personal phone number and email at your visit.
4. My medication was denied by my insurance. What should I do?
Although we can try obtaining an authorization but often it gets denied. It is best to check with insurance to see what alternate options they are providing and go by those. Most insurance companies have an online drug formulary which can provide this information as well.
5. I am already feeling better. Should I stop my medicine?
Continue taking the medicine as directed to avoid any relapse or complications.
6. Why do I need to schedule a visit so often? Why can't I just get automatic refills?
For most medications, at least some type of monitoring is required. In order to prescribe safely, most health care practitioners require periodic visits. Please see the information below to see how frequently you'll need an office visit for various medicines. This is a rough guideline and based upon your individual situation, this frequency may be different.
Referral, Procedures and Tests Done Outside Office:
1. We talked about doing a test (to be done at an outside location) or seeing a specialist for which I was going to receive a phone call but no one has called me. What should I do?
After a referral/procedure/test request is placed which will take place outside office, our referral team sends an authorization request to the insurance and checks for available appointments for the requested service within your insurance network. After this is done, typically a staff member from outside of our office on behalf of the specified service provider (specialist's staff, imaging center staff etc) contacts you for your availability. Due to multiple steps involved in this process, it may take longer than expected. Typically, a routine procedure is scheduled within 1-2 weeks and we can expedite the process based upon urgency. Most likely reasons for unusual delay are lack of insurance benefits/authorization, or lack of availability of services within your network. If you do not hear from a staff member within one week of your visit, please contact us.
2. I have a new problem. Can the doctor order a test (lab, X Ray, MRI, referral) without an appointment?
It is entirely possible that your assessment of what type of test you need is correct. However, for proper evaluation and documentation, it is best to schedule a visit for a new problem. This is to ensure safe practices and to avoid diagnosis errors. In addition, if your condition warrants a specialist visit or a diagnostic test, your insurance will most likely deny authorization due to lack of a visit documentation. So please call to schedule a visit.
3. What is the best way to have an outside facility send you my records?
Please sign a release of information form at the outside facility and provide our office information including fax number. This may take a long time. In order to expedite the process, please have the outside facility provide you with your records specially lab/test results and either bring these to us or email these to us so we scan them in your chart.
Paperwork - FMLA, Work Notes/Accommodations etc:
1. I need paperwork filled out for my work. What is the quickest way to get it done?
For a simple work excuse such as a day off from work for being sick, needing to take medicine at work, simple accommodations, a note can be provided without a visit as long as something to that effect was discussed during or after your visit. For more involved notes / paperwork such as FMLA, short term disability, long term work accommodation etc, an office visit is required. This is to make sure that proper evaluation and documentation exists in the chart. As a general rule, if more than a page need to be filled out, an office visit is required.
DME such as scooters, breathing machines, supplies etc.
1. I need a medical supply (such as scooter, chair etc.) How can I get it?
Again, refer to the answer to the question about paperwork. If you we discussed it in detail during the visit, such paperwork can be filled out using the most recent office note (documented within the last 30 days) but for anything outside of that, an office visit is needed because for most of these items, a face to face encounter is required.
1. What is the best way to get in touch with my doctor?
You should have received my phone number as well as email address at your visit. Please feel free to use this information to contact me. I am usually not able to pick up the phone so please text me.
I provide my personal contact information because I believe that my patients should not have to go through multiple hoops to get answers to their (sometimes very simple) questions. It is my hope that I provide you with the best possible care to and this can be achieved only if my care is centered around your needs.
2. What type of screening tests do I need at my age?
It is greatly important to stay up to date on your routine health screening tests. This can prevent several common medical conditions. Please review the information below to see what you may need at your age. Please note that this information may change based upon latest guidelines.
When a medication is initiated, a close follow up such as 2-4 weeks may be needed. Once the condition is stable, the following guideline can be used:
Hormone Replacement: Every 3 months
Diabetes: Every 3 months
Blood Pressure: Every 6 months
High Cholesterol: Every 6 months
Heart Failure: Every 3 months
Birth Control Pills: Once a year
Weight Loss Treatment: Once a month
Migraine Medicines: Every 3 months
ADHD: Once a month
Depression / Anxiety: Every 6 months or once a month (for controlled substances)
Sleep Disorder: Every 6 months or once a month (for controlled substances)
All others/General medications for chronic conditions: Every 3 to 6 months