One of the significant problems that the healthcare industry faces is access to care. Access to care has many aspects but primarily involves the ability of a patient to get an appointment for treatment with a doctor. Everyone has had the experience of calling a doctor’s office and being told that the earliest appointment available isn’t for months. At a surgical office the matter is compounded by the two types of appointments, the consultation appointment where the surgery is first discussed and the actual surgical appointment. Depending on the level of difficulty of the procedure and the patient’s medical history occasionally those appointments can be one and the same. The time of year and the surgical schedule will vary by office and often appointments may be available but are not convenient to a patient’s own schedule.
We at Pottstown Oral Surgery pride ourselves on our patient care and the ability to take care of not only routine issues but patient emergencies. One thing to keep in mind is that we see thousands of patients every month, all of whom expect their treatment to be done in a timely fashion. A huge bottleneck exists where these thousands of patients need to be seen by our four doctors. The fact that appointments are available often within a two to three week period is a testimony to our desire to provide our patients with quality care and timely service. The common misconception is that if the appointment time or day of the week that a patient requests is not available for a month or two that “I can’t get in to see them” when the real statement is “They can’t see me when I want to be seen”. Certain days of the week and times of year like Fridays and Holidays will tend to fill all available open appointments very rapidly.
Patient safety also plays a role in the timeliness of care. Prior to a patient’s arrival at our office we cannot fully assess medical problems or the difficulty of the surgery to be performed. Patients with significant medical problems often require management of their medical conditions through alteration of medications or consultation with their treating physician. Although this may slow the overall process it is a very important step in ensuring the safety of the patient for all procedures. Although patients may think, “it’s only a tooth”, we take our responsibility for your safety very seriously and will treat you accordingly. You would never think of going to the heart surgeon’s office and demanding to have surgery before it was safe, all we ask a similar courtesy. Our main concern is your overall health and safety.
Another rate limiting factor in obtaining appointments is the insurance process. Certain procedures and insurance companies require authorization prior to a procedure being performed. Please keep in mind that this is an issue between the patient and their chosen insurance provider and not with our ability to see or treat you as soon as possible. The alternative always exists for you to be financially responsible for your treatment and process the insurance on your own. Following the insurance parameters to minimize your out of pocket expenses is a choice that you as the patient will make. We understand that this can be very frustrating for patients and we do everything in our power to minimize any and all delays and be available for our patients.