Thursday, November 18, 2010

How to navigate the health care system- find a primary care provider!

I see a lot of people who show up in the ED wanting a solution to a problem they've had for 6 months and they want it right now. They expect that the specialist will see them right there in the ED, they will be taken to surgery immediately, any problem they have will be solved within their ED visit. They have an acute problem, show up in the ED and expect we'll fix it. We ask them to followup with their health care provider, they don't do it and then they show up in the ED when the problem happens again. I tend to refer to this as health care on demand.There are a lot of people who feel that it is their right to get whatever healthcare they want whenever they want.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Our health care system is very complex and a lot of people don't know how to get what they need so they show up in the ED.

Over the next few days I will share some suggestions about how to navigate the system.

Here is my first tip.
You should have a primary care provider.

The primary care provider used to serve as the "gate keeper" to all of your care but this isn't really the norm anymore. You used to have to ask your primary care provider for a referral before seeing a specialist or going to the emergency department. The idea was the primary was supposed to make sure you got appropriate care and didn't get what you didn't need. The problem is this creates a layer of beaurocracy that really isn't necessary. When you needed a specialist someone from the primary care office had to call the insurance company and ask for a referral. They were given a number that they gave to the patient. Then the patient had to call the specialist and give them the number before they would schedule an appointment. All a crazy waste of time.

Now the primary serves a different function. They should be your 'go to' person for your health care needs. Your primary isn't the person who will solve all your problems but they will be able to help you figure out who can help you. They know you best and are the most familiar with your health history.

How do you find a primary care provider? If you have insurance, start with your insurer's provider directory. Call the one nearest you and ask if they are accepting new patients. Make an appointment with that person to establish care. If you have records from previous doctors then send them to your new provider. They can review them and discuss management of any chronic problems you might have. Now you have someone to call if you have a health issue.

If you do not have insurance, look for clinics that see people with no insurance. I know there are several in my town. They are usually run by volunteer providers and can provider comprehensive care.

Share |
Subscribe in a reader

No comments:

Post a Comment