Before conspiring to see a physician it is necessary to make an appointment. The call involves several possibilities. If the doctor is a member of a clinic you may be greeted by a common roadblock—the automated switchboard. After discovering which numbers get you to someone breathing who can take your information, you will be faced with more roadblocks. Which health insurance are you involved with? Who did you see last and when was that? Did you see the doctor you are requesting an appointment with previously? Are you a medicare member? How old are you? Is there any reason for you to be seen soon? Once these simple questions are answered you may be given an appointment. If urgency is a problem you will be directed to the emergency room.
Your appointment is at 11:30. You arrive at the office on time and are asked to sign in. Your Medicare card, your insurance card, your address, next of kin as well as your driver’s license are examined. (I guess they want to be sure you are who you say you are!).
The clinic prides itself on promptness and with luck you make it to the inner office only 36 minutes after your scheduled appointment. This gets you to the nurse who weighs you, takes your pulse and blood pressure and tells you the doctor will be with you right away. Only ten minutes later you are in the presence of the “almighty”. A history is taken and the cause of your visit is determined. More than one complaint may result in a request that you make another appointment. A brief appropriate examination is accomplished and a working diagnosis is established. (This is necessary if the physician is to be paid. A “unknown” diagnosis is not allowed if payment from an insurance carrier or Medicare is expected.
The next problem is medication. A prescription may be called in to the pharmacy. Be assured that this will not be immediately available. The pharmacist has to look at it and will have to determine whether the patient’s insurance carrier allows this medication and a copayment must be determined. The patient will be requested to sign in at the pharmacy where all of the insurance information must be verified. Care must also be taken so that HIPPA will be properly observed and no one can overhear or find out any patient information.
Laboratory work is usually requested and must be obtained at a laboratory that recognizes the patient’s insurance. The doctor has to determine which laboratory can do the tests that are requested. Errors may occur and the patient may have to visit more than one lab. Once again the laboratory has to get all of the patient information so they can get paid. If the requires fasting there may be quite a large number of patients waiting especially since most people will get to the lab early before they have breakfast.
There must be some method to streamline this process or will all attempts result in just another level of frustrating maneuvers. The good old days were really great.