For Patients: Things to Remember Before Your Visit
- Please, always bring your insurance card when you come.
- We recommend that you try to arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time, as we shall need to verify insurance eligibility and sometimes update paperwork. Always notify the receptionist if you have a new address, phone number or change of insurance. If it is your first visit ever, please come 30 minutes early as there is some basic medical history paperwork to do. You can also print the new patient paperwork from this site and complete it before you come in.
- The office tries to balance the need every day for scheduled appointments that patients can count on well in advance, as well as urgent/acute care appointments that need to be scheduled the same day. Every office struggles with the unpredictability of the schedule, and we hope that we have found the balance that works best for all of our patients.
- An after-hours system is in place for medical emergencies. All the staff at our office wish to take care of routine medical matters during office hours and wish to help in any way possible with emergencies that may occur after hours. For emergencies, please call 911 or, if reasonable, call us for the doctor on call. For routine and foreseeable matters, please call us during office hours. For example, we will not handle prescription refills after hours; we will help you determine if a sudden injury or illness warrants an immediate trip to the E.R.
- We do not want to leave you waiting. We consider your time just as important as ours, so we do our best to schedule patients appropriately. Please provide 24 hours notice if you need to cancel an appointment. You will be charged $25 for late cancellations and no-shows.
Every appointment shall be scheduled as either a 15-minute appointment or a 30-minute appointment. If you have one or two problems to discuss or one or two medicines to refill (refills often require an assessment of the success/failure/side effects of the treatment) then please schedule 15 minutes. If you have three or four problems to discuss or three or four medicines to refill, then schedule 30 minutes. If you have five or more issues, we frankly admit that we do not think we can practice good medicine covering so many issues in only 30 minutes - we ask you to schedule a second appointment on another day soon thereafter to address the additional issues. We choose to not schedule appointments for more than thirty minutes because inaccessibility of the physician for so long is hard on other patients and staff.
Insurance companies now distinguish between doing a “General Physical Exam” and doing a “problem-solving visit”. Believe it or not, most insurance companies do not pay physicians to do both during the same visit, so it is not feasible for us to do both during the same visit. And it is usually impossible to do both well during the same visit. It is common that patients have to schedule two separate appointments to cover both. For example, in a typical General Physical Exam Dr. Hindes and the patient will review the overall medical history, generating a list of issues that need to be addressed in the coming year: individual diagnoses are listed, current drug doses reviewed, preventative tests discussed, done, or arranged. What are your risks for developing heart disease? - for cancer? We may do a Pap smear, set up colonoscopy, a DEXA scan, or give a pneumonia vaccine or a tetanus booster…. Is daily low dose aspirin to prevent heart disease and colon cancer recommended? Daily calcium and Vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis? Does your lifestyle impose serious health risks (smoking, alcohol excess, high-risk sex…). There is much to discuss without ever getting to any immediate complaints such as your knee pain. So once we have the big picture, we'll schedule a “problem-solving visit” to actually start discussing individual issues in detail and writing the prescriptions as necessary. We too wish we could do it all in one day, but we simply can't.
When patients call in for a refill of a medicine, without actually coming in to be seen, we will decide if we can do that or not depending on the level of risk that is involved by giving more medicine without having seen the patient to re-assess the issue. Refilling diabetes medicine, for example, without having seen recent blood sugar levels may be very unwise. On the other hand, thyroid function is unlikely to change significantly over several months (depending on circumstances) and may be refilled long after the last visit. We have an explicit policy that covers nearly all the drugs that people may call us about. We ask for your understanding - needing to see you before we refill a prescription is sometimes medically necessary.
We acknowledge that it would be very convenient to the patient if the doctor would simply come to the phone and answer questions for the patient. When we have tried that, we have found the volume of calls for the physician to be so large (often 20-40 requests for a physician discussion each day) as to be impracticable. To have a conversation with a health care provider, please expect that you will be asked to make an appointment. Exceptions are made, according to the circumstances of the day, but not as often as patients may wish. Again, we wish we could meet the expectation of physician accessibility by phone, and we regret that we have never found a way to do that and to still be available to the patients who wish to see the physician for an appointment.