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    HERE IS THE ‘INSIDE SCOOP’

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | August 8th, 2021

    HERE IS THE ‘INSIDE SCOOP’

    The first time I wrote the ‘Inside Scoop’ was many years ago. It was well received. There has to be some advantages of having a sister as a doctor. Since that time, the family has grown. I thought I would share the information for our new sisters and those that have forgotten what was discussed.

    APPOINTMENTS

    If you want to be in and out of the office without much waiting, you want to try and be scheduled for the first appointment in the morning or the first appointment after lunch.

    Be honest with the person scheduling the appointment. If you think you will need more time than usual with your provider, be honest with the scheduler so that they can schedule you appropriately.  There are times that the provider needs to get out of the office early – you do not want your appointment at that time, because you do not want to feel rushed.

    If you cannot see your provider or a specialist in a timely fashion, meaning that the next appointment is months away – schedule the appointment at the given time, and then make sure that the scheduler is aware that you want to be notified of cancellations. You should also call when the weather is bad to find out if there are cancellations. They give priority to those who have scheduled an appointment already.

    If you cannot make it to your appointment, call the office and reschedule. Try to do it as soon as possible.  If you do not call and simply no show or if you cancel less than 24 hours from your appointment time, there is a chance that the office will not allow you to schedule any further appointments or charge you for the missed appointment.

    RESULTS

    Do not accept the statement that “no news is good news”. You deserve to get your results regardless of whether it is good or bad. You should never leave the office without knowing when and how to expect your results. Most offices have moved to electronic medical records and you can sign up with a special code to get access to your records that include your results. Take advantage of this opportunity. It will be cheaper than having to come to an appointment to hear that your results are normal.

    MEDICAL BILLS

    Medical expenses are the leading cause of bankruptcy. DO NOT ignore your medical bills. You can always call the facility charging you and arrange for a payment plan. Be honest with them with what you can afford. Some will take as little as $5.00 a month if that is what you can afford. You risk affecting your credit by not dealing with your medical bills.

    SECOND OPINION

    Do not be afraid to get a second opinion. If you are not comfortable with the management options that your current provider has suggested, you can get a second opinion. If your provider gets offended, maybe you should find another provider.  Generally you want the opinion to come from another doctor that is not in the same practice.

    TEACHING HOSPITALS AND CLINICS

    Do not allow lack of insurance or being under-insured prevent you from seeking care. This is especially true for dental care which is important for overall care. You can always go to a ‘teaching institution’, like the dental school or medical school clinics. Unfortunately, ‘teaching institutions’ get a bad rap because people feel that they are ‘guinea pigs’ because these clinics are staffed with resident physicians and student doctors. Some of the best care you can get is in a teaching institution because they are up to date with the latest medical techniques. Every medical student or resident physician that sees you has an attending physician (a boss, the supervising physician) who is overlooking all that they do. You have the right to ask to speak to the attending physician when you are seen in the clinic.

    PATIENT PORTAL

    A patient portal is a secure online website that gives patients a convenient 24 hour access to personal health information from anywhere with an internet connection. Using a secure username and password, you can view your health information and do many other things. Since I last wrote about a patient portal, more people have signed up, but it is not 100%.  If you have access to a patient portal and you are not taking advantage of ityou are missing an opportunity to improve your health care. On the portal:

    • You have the ability to look at your health records to make sure that they are accurate
    • Check your labs and look at trends (very important for knowing your numbers)
    • Request prescription refills
    • Schedule non-urgent appointments
    • Update your contact information
    • View educational material on your medical condition
    • Communicate with your physician (you can send secure messages to your physician – please know that most likely a nurse will view the message before sending the message to the physician)

    The patient portal is called different names depending on which electronic health record system your physician uses. An example of a name is MyChart.  If you are not signed up with a patient portal, please ask your doctor the next time you go to the office. You will be given a special code to sign up. Sometimes people sign up and forget their password. Use a password that you will remember. You are missing an opportunity to take better control of your health and to have better communication with your provider if you do not sign up. You do not need a computer to sign up. Your smart phone can do the job. If you have neither, you can get access to a computer in your public library.  As a physician, I tell my patients that the quickest way to reach me is through the patient portal and I am not alone.

    GOOD RX 

    Good Rx is a website and mobile app that tracks prescription drug prices and offers drug coupons in the United States. You cannot use this with your insurance. Typically it is used if you find that your medication is not covered by your insurance or if you find that the drug price is expensive even with your insurance. You can download the app or you can go on the website, type in the drug name and it will list the prices and the pharmacy.  Print or download the coupons. I will tell you that sometimes the pharmacy listed with the coupon might not want to honor the price; you can call the Good Rx customer service.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.




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