We accept most major insurance programs including Blue Cross, Evergreen, State Merit (Georgia), Medicare, Medicaid (Georgia), Aetna, Cigna, QHP, Tricare, and Mailhandlers. Patients with questions should check with our office staff. Patients with HMO insurance of any form are responsible for having their physician referral with them at the time of the first appointment, and all subsequent appointments. Patients without health insurance are seen on a case-by-case basis, provided that an arrangement for services has been made with our office manager before the first appointment.
The first visit with us is usually the longest, with an average time of approximately two hours in the office. We ask that our new patients download the new patient forms from our website and bring with you to your visit. If you have no computer access, we recommend that you arrive thirty minutes early for the first visit to complete all necessary forms. We also suggest that patients bring prior medical records and medications. Patients are often told by their referring physicians that their doctor will FAX or send their records. Patients occasionally call the office to ask our staff whether their lab work results or prior medical records are in their chart in preparation for the first visit. Our staff is not prepared to determine whether everything the doctor needs to see is there. The best way to be sure that the doctor has everything needed for the visit is for patients to bring all such records themselves and bring them along to the first visit. During the first visit, patients will be examined, interviewed, tested, and an initial game plan to approach the condition will be discussed.
We do not often provide a firm opinion about the condition on the first visit. In our area of medicine, laboratory or other tests are usually necessary before a complete opinion may be provided. This may take a few visits. We will not discuss laboratory test results or other results over the phone with patients. These tests are usually complicated and so require a face to face visit for reviewing them and making further plans.
We are happy to have family or friends involved in the discussions with our patients. However, we will not discuss anything about one of our patients with a family member or friend unless we have specific written authorization to do so by the patient, and unless the patient is present during the discussion. Of course, parents or guardians of minor patients have the right to have any discussions they wish.
We are very concerned about adhering to our patient schedule. Emergency patients or phone calls make that unreliable at times. Please know that we do value your time.
Follow-up appointments usually involve a review of the initial or subsequent laboratory data, review of the clinical status of the patient, and derivation of plans for future care. A detailed progress report is prepared after most appointments for the primary physician or referring physician of the patient. Patients who walk in without appointments or have emergency appointments are called “work-ins”, which means that we are “working them into our schedule”. When this happens, there may be a wait. We attempt to identify with our patients when they are in that situation, and seen as urgent or emergency visits.
Patients or family also call at times and ask to be told the results of laboratory or other testing over the phone. In general, we do not provide such services. We usually do a large and complex battery of laboratory tests. The proper time and place for review of these results is at the office visit. We will, of course, send copies of laboratory work to patients at any time once they have been reviewed by their provider.
Forms and Records Duplication
We are pleased to assist our patients with the completion of administrative forms whenever possible. However, some forms, such as disability or FMLA forms, require extraordinary time and/or effort, or ask for assessments, which exceed our usual medical expertise. Therefore, we reserve the right to review each request for the completion of forms on a case-by-case basis. Our review of such forms does not imply a commitment to complete them. Appropriate charges may be assessed for the time and effort required by such forms. Patients should be aware that such charges are not covered by health insurance. Patients should also be aware that disability or life insurance companies will contact us and demand that we complete complex forms for them to assess whether to write an insurance contract with the patient, or whether they are obligated to honor payments required by an existing insurance contract. Often, these companies refuse to pay for the services they request from us, or demand that we bill our patient for the services. Endocrine Consultants will not provide such services for these companies unless they pay a customary fee for them, depending on the time required to provide them. We will not bill our patients for services an outside company requests.
We charge the fees allowed by the State of Georgia for any complete or majority duplication of a medical record. Brief excerpts of medical records may be provided to our patient, or to the identified recipient of these records, as a courtesy. Because of the expenses incurred in copying medical records, patients will be charged for complete copies, in accordance with the laws of the State of Georgia. We recommend that patients retain any copies for their own future use. Copies may then be made for other health providers and agencies by the patient from this “master” copy.
The cost of copies of records to be sent to businesses or organizations not directly involved in the rendering of care to patients will not be provided unless the requesting company provides prepayment for these records. Instructions by such companies for us to bill our patients and send these copies to them before we are paid for the copying services will not be honored.
There is always a physician on call after office hours. After-hours medical support is limited to actual emergency situations that cannot wait until the next business day. Routine clinical questions, prescription refills, or questions related to administrative matters such as appointments or billing issues should be held until the following business day. We suggest that patients who have placed a call for after-hours help to keep their phone clear once the call has been placed. Occasionally, patients have kept their phone busy after calling us, and become frustrated if they do not hear an immediate response.
The scope of services available over the phone after hours is limited. Some questions or clinical issues may be handled by phone, but many require immediate examination in a local emergency room. Occasionally, the advice to visit an emergency room frustrates patients; they do not realize how difficult it is to render an informed opinion on questions over the phone.
Our answering service will not accept calls regarding changing or canceling appointments. We do not discuss questions regarding adult patients over the phone with family members, unless specifically instructed to do so by our patient, or a family member has the medical power of attorney.