Transition to Transitory Health Care
Chances are you – the person reading this article – were one of the more than 88 million people who sought treatment from outpatient medical facilities in the United States last year. If not you, then perhaps someone you know did this.
As insurance companies continue to dictate how much they pay out for medical expenses, as hospitals seek to make more treatment beds available, and as patients seek to find ways of getting needed medical care or ongoing treatment without the hassle of a long hospital stay, more and more people are turning to outpatient or transitory health care facilities. These facilities are often specialized in a particular area of health, and can include medical schools, pain or rehabilitation clinics, surgery centers, imaging centers, physical therapy centers and medical equipment rental facilities.
Over the last 20 years in particular, the health care industry in many countries has seen a shift from hospital-centric care to outpatient-centric care. But with so many options available, how do you know if outpatient care is right for you? What do you do if you require emergency medical attention while undergoing outpatient care? How do you choose the right transitory medical clinic for you?
How to Find an Outpatient Care Clinic?
1) Ask your doctor: Usually, the journey to outpatient health care begins with a release from hospital or referral from your family physician, along with a list of available clinics to choose from. This is a good place to start your search. Just because your doctor recommends a particular center or clinic, doesn’t mean that’s necessarily the right one for you. Even if you have a very specific medical need and there’s only one clinic in the area that specializes in that kind of treatment, you – the patient – have the right to choose where you are treated and who treats you. You are under no obligation to have care provided in that facility by whoever is available. Ultimately, it is your choice. But overall, the search for the right transitory medical clinic typically starts with your doctor’s recommendation.
2) Ask family or friends who have used the facility for their opinion and experiences.
3) With the information age, many facility and physician reviews and opinions are now available online. Forums can address many questions and concerns and add to your information. But keep in mind that not every treatment is right for every patient--even if with the same diagnosis--and not every physician is the right choice for everyone else. Someone may report that they didn’t like Dr. So-and-So, but others may love him.
4) Ask a health agency or state or local government agency’s rating on an outpatient center you’re considering. Your state’s board of medicine or your insurance company may also have information. Depending on your particular insurance company’s coverage, they may require that you receive care from a particular facility or facilities.
5) Visit the center(s). The one closest to you may not necessarily be the right one for you, so visit those centers that are a little farther away, but accessible too.
These are the steps at the initial stages of finding out what services are available to you. Basically, you’re looking to answer the questions about accessibility, quality of care and reputation of the center and its physicians and treatment.
Tune in for next week’s article to find out what questions you should be asking during the actual “interviewing” process to make sure your specific needs and concerns are going to be met by a particular clinic.
Reviewed May 26, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton