In my experience in the last 10 years as a clinician (and sometimes as a patient) I have noticed that many patients come in prepared for their visit. In addition, many patients come completely unprepared. The patients “readiness” believe it or not has a huge impact on their care and I have personally found that those who take an active role in their health and are prepared and get better results than those who do not!
Finding a doctor or practitioner to help you can be a difficult and frustrating task so these questions were created to help you be more prepared for your visits with the doctor and to help you find the right doctor that can actually help you! Also, these questions will help you decide if the doctor and clinic is a good fit for what you are looking for.
Each question is asked in a particular order much like a script so that you can get the most information out of it. Of course you can go on your own questions but these are some of the core questions that should be asked and answered to give you an idea of what to expect from the clinic and doctor.
You are looking for the person answering the phone to be friendly and caring, listen to your concerns, as well as answer the questions to the best of their ability. Some of the questions may be a little more difficult so if they do not have an answer, allow them to do their best. Most of all, they should be helpful to you to see if they are a good fit for your condition.
Before you call the doctors office, please review all the questions and the flow of the questions. Grab a pen and paper and make sure you can write down the answers, take notes, and see what you liked or disliked about the office. Remember to treat this like an interview. You want it to be a win-win situation.
YOU: Hi there, my name is _________ and I am calling to find out some information on your clinic because I am currently dealing with __________ and I wanted to see if you guys could help me.
Clinic: Yes, great! What would you like to know?
Question 1: As I mentioned before I am currently dealing with _________, does the doctor have experience treating this type of condition?
The clinic will likely just say yes as they want to get you in as a patient but here is where you begin to explore their process. Remember, it’s learning about them and treat this as a phone interview.
Question 2: What types of treatments and/or techniques would we possibly go through for this type of condition?
This will give you information on the clinic and/or doctor’s treatment style and what you may possibly experience when you go there.
Question 3: How long will the first session or appointment take? How long will each session be? How much one-on-one time will I have with the doctor?
The average primary care doctor visit in the USA is about 15 minutes. Many Chiropractors see patients in 5 minutes and often times in physical therapy you will see an aid that does most of the instruction or you will be grouped with multiple beds/tables.
In many cases, pain and injuries can be complex and this is a relatively short period of time if you cannot get all your questions answered. Imagine waiting for 20 minutes in a waiting room, waiting in the exam room for 5 minutes, talking to a nurse for 3 minutes, waiting 5 more minutes for the doctor to come in, then having only a 5 minute doctor appointment?
Good luck getting your questions answered no less a quality evaluation. More time with the doctor typically means better care better, a more satisfied patient, better outcomes, but more doctor time will likely also be more money. Remember, not all visits have to be long but do make sure you are okay with the time that the doctor sees you and make sure you feel confident that they have addressed your concerns properly.
Question 4: Just out of curiosity, how many people does the doctor see at once? If they do not understand this question, ask how many people are scheduled per hour?
By asking these questions to the clinic, you are getting an idea of the flow of the clinic and beginning to understand if they have time for you and how much personal attention they give to each patient.
Question 5: Is there a typically a wait time in the office?
I have not met a patient yet who loves waiting for their late doctor! Personally feel like this is important because it gives you an idea of how efficient and caring the clinic is about your time. Hiccups in a schedule happen to everyone but your time is valuable as well so make sure your doctor and the clinic respects it too.
Question 6: Do you have any idea (approximately) how long it will take to fix this type of condition? How many visits?
The front desk will not know this answer and they should not know! The only way you will know this answer is if you get a proper evaluation and accurate recommendations on your case. This is an acceptable answer. They may say that in our experience we recommend ___________ but we would not know until you have had a proper evaluation and the doctor makes their recommendations.
Question 7: Will the clinic help me with education so I can help prevent this injury from getting worse or reoccurring?
In my opinion, any clinic or office that does not provide patient empowerment and education is failing at their job! The whole goal is to get people better and if they do not have an active approach or system toward helping you on your condition inside and outside the office then you will likely want to steer clear of this clinic. This is particularly true for Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, and Physio clinics but should include every clinic.
Question 8: What is the pricing? Are their options for any financial payment plans?
A well-run clinic knows that everyone cannot afford care up front and therefore they should have multiple payment options to fit the patient’s needs. This can be insurance, pay as you go, upfront pre-payments, payment plans, monthly installments, etc. This may not be possible all the time but it is worth asking about for sure!
Question 9: So if I wanted to get started with you guys, what would the process look like?
This gives you an idea of what the requirements and requests would be. Is there paperwork? Can I access paperwork online? It is an overview of how the office runs and the person on the phone should know the office flow well enough to tell you how to get started and the entire first visit process and on.
Question 10: Are their any resources available that I can access? Things like Website, Videos, blogs, articles, reviews, testimonials?
Where can you find information about the clinic or doctor so that you can learn more about them? Even if it is a great doctor or clinic, the doctor’s personality may be not your style. Watching videos, reading articles can give you insight on whether you like the personal philosophy of the practitioner. Be sure to use reviews, YouTube, Google, and any Internet resources to find information on the doctor. Doctors and clinics that create content are often times the same clinics that care about education and making a difference in the lives of their patients.
Remember, these are some of the top questions you can ask prior to your first visit to help you gain insight on if a doctor or clinic can help you. Asking these questions to multiple offices can take time but it is well worth the investment as many patients choose convenience and location over quality. I hope you found this article helpful and if you would like to schedule an appointment with me please do so by clicking here!
By Dr. Josh Jagoda
Chiropractor and Owner of San Diego Spine & Sports Wellness