Being a patient or caregiver (or both!) in today’s health care system is a little like working in the mail room of a big company. Your job, whether you like it or not, is to deal with the logistics of your health and health care information: to transfer documents, handle dispatches, confirm delivery, and so on.
Every member of your health care team (doctors, insurers, lab technicians, etc.) needs your health and health care information. And it all has to be correct and kept up to date. Your info is needed to diagnose, treat or provide other health care related services. Say Ah! has compiled some tips to make this work easier:
Stay on Top of the Info: Always check that your doctor/provider got the paperwork (or fax, call, email, etc.) she needed on your behalf (such as referrals or lab reports). This is especially important before a surgery, test or procedure, or treatment since not having the right paperwork can prevent you from getting it. If there’s a problem, contact the office that was suppose to send the info and find out what the hold up is. Stay on top of it, and keep checking.
Get a Copy and Correct Mistakes: Ask for copies of all your paperwork. This way you’ll have it to refer to or give to a doctor/provider if they need it and didn’t get it. Check to make sure the info is correct. Contact the doctor/provider to fix any mistakes right away.
Keep it Simple: Use one pharmacy to fill prescriptions; go to one lab for tests; find the right person at each doctor/provider’s office that can help you. This can make your life easier, but also the less places and people that have your info can reduce paperwork, and help keep your records up to date and ensure fewer mistakes.
Make Phone Calls More Efficient: Be prepared to make many calls, possibly over a period of several days. Set time aside so you don’t feel rushed and get frustrated. Have your paperwork and important I.D.’s in front of you, and a pad and pencil to take notes. Always give your name and birth date, and reason for your call.
Bonus tip: If there’s a problem, ask to speak with the office manager or person in charge, and if it’s not resolved, call service after hours and leave a message for the doctor to call you back.