Very Thorough New Patient Procedure Make the Difference!
By Susan D. Player, DC, DABCI, DACBN
Many people aren’t aware of the several steps that occur as part of a person becoming a new patient in our office. I wanted to share with you more information to help you understand the extensive process you may have experienced yourself, as well as to help you to talk about the activity with family or friends you might like to refer to me. This is so important, I offer the entire procedure in a “package price” rather than charging for the actual time involved. In addition to the high level of diagnostic skill and unique treatment that I offer, these steps set our office far above the level of many other health practitioners.
Often the first step is to have a 15-20 minute consultation with me, either in person or on the phone, to briefly discuss the person’s main health concerns. This is offered at no charge. My main purpose during this consultation is to determine if I feel that I can offer them a possible solution to their situation. This decision is partially based on my experience with helping patients with similar problems and/or my knowledge of the causative aspects of their situation as well as my understanding of how the type of work I do could offer a successful resolution. After speaking with the person, if I don’t feel that I am the appropriate practitioner for them to work with, I do my best to refer them to someone more appropriate for their particular extenuating circumstances.
Once the prospective patient and I agree that going forward with my thorough exam is what we both want to do, the next step is for the person to fill out our patient application paperwork. You know, the “new patient forms.” Although dreaded by some, especially if they’ve already been to many doctors, they’re not too bad. Usually it takes about thirty to forty-five minutes to fill them out. I sometimes joke that if you make it through the forms, you’ve passed the first exam step.
My assistant, who has been trained by me, does the next step. This is reviewing the forms with the prospective patient and can be done in person or on the phone, if the patient is coming from a far distance as many do. In order to do this correctly it takes TIME – usually at least an hour and often, in a complicated health situation, much longer.
I can’t tell you how many times, after doing all this fact gathering, a patient originates that NO ONE has ever cared enough to be so thorough. Even before managed healthcare came along, I don’t know of a doctor who took a history in this way. Especially since the insurance industry changes occurred it just isn’t possible. With a third party telling a physician, either directly or indirectly, how to run their office and how many patients they have to shuttle through to keep the office afloat, there just isn’t time.
The purpose of this information gathering is for me to have as much data as possible about each situation. If I know how something started, what caused it, what lessens it, what doesn’t help it, what tests have been done and their results, etc., I am more able to isolate exactly what is going on during my exam.
Before the prospective patient is scheduled to see me, I review all of this information to plan which things I will test for to determine the causes of this person’s particular problems. This usually takes me twenty to thirty minutes, but can be up to an hour in more complicated situations and if there are test results, and hospital or other doctors’ records to review.
Everything up to this point has been done before I actually see the person in preparation for my actual examination. I am certain that our attention to detail in these prepatory steps contributes greatly to my success in helping people when many others have failed.
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