What I’m Really Providing My Patients With

After practicing for over 21 years, I certainly haven’t “seen it all”, and whenever I think that I have, something or someone comes into the office that reminds me of that.  I actually really enjoy these patients and problems, they move me out of my comfort zone and really challenge my clinical thought process and decision making.   Most patients and their problems though fall within the “I’ve seen this many times” zone.   I still have many things to consider about these patients and its this thought and decision making process that is the real service that I provide my patients with.

All of the technology, office procedures and processes are all set up to provide me with the information that I need to make these decisions.  I’ve purchased technology and set up office procedures to streamline and shorten this process considerably, but in the end, I still have to filter all of the information and decide what the problem is and come up with a plan of attack to deal with it.  Whether its the farsighted 5 year old from yesterday who needs glasses to see easier (but not his entire Rx because he wouldn’t be able to adjust to it all at once), the 69 year old Glaucoma patient who has stable visual fields and anatomy but who’s pressure is too high even on his two glaucoma medications (one of which he may or may not have taken that day) or the 49 year old grocery store owner who “just” needs to use reading glasses to see up close.  Each patient presents a set of usually familiar problems and findings, and its my job to put the puzzle together for a solution.

I started thinking about this while sitting in my sons’ orthodontist’s office for 3 hours this morning as they had their braces removed and read this blog post on the topic.  I’m glad that they have wi-fi access so that I could write about it while the thought is fresh in my mind!  I have wi-fi available in the office, but we try to not keep our patients and their families in the office long enough to need the access!!

Dr. Warren

www.warreneyecarecenter.com

Make An Appointment

 

My Least Favorite Part Of Practicing…….?

Easy, dealing with insurance companies, their policies, their processes etc.  Sure, they reduce payments for services too, but that’s not even close to the worst part of dealing with them.  Insurance companies make their money “in the middle” of the doctor patient relationship, and not just the financial aspect of the relationship.  

I had to make a tough decision last year, whether to continue to be a provider for one of the major national vision care plans.  I chose not to continue, knowing that I would definitely lose some patients because of the decision.  But I simply couldn’t continue to do business with them.  Their payments for services and products weren’t any better or worse than the other vision care program (VSP) that I continue to be a provide for.  But their policies and marketing to my patients were just not something that I could continue to deal with.  You see, this particular vision care plan is owned by the largest commercial optometric organization in the United States, Luxottica, who in turn owns LensCrafters, Pearle vision and several other companies.

This vision care plan does not have the ability to integrate with the software that my office staff uses (or with any other eye care practice software), requiring my staff to manually perform many processes, from looking up patient benefits to filing claims and orders and pricing optical orders.  This not only took up too much of my staff’s time, it also confused patients and wasted patient time waiting for information before, during and after their appointments.

This plan also would market to my patients, directing them to their own offices and optical sales locations.  So, besides being “not easy” to do business with, they were competing directly with me for MY patients.

I’ve also had to deal with medical insurance companies and their lies to patients when selling them coverage.  We’ve had a group of patients purchase/sign up for a “Medicare Advantage” plan who were told that “nothing will change” with regards to your doctor choices.  Sounds familiar, ‘eh?  But I digress.  Well, as I write this, I am not a provider for this plan, meaning that patients who saw me early this year assuming that they didn’t have to change anything, racked up bills in my office that their insurance company wouldn’t pay.  We don’t have the contract with the insurance company, the patients do.  Meaning that technically, the patients were responsible for these bills.  I chose to write off these charges and not collect the total amount from the patients, meaning that I got to work for nothing, and pay my staff to work at the same time.  We’re looking into being added to this plan’s panel, and if they will pay a reasonable amount for procedures provided, I’ll hopefully soon be a provider for this plan.

Can you see why doctors aren’t enamored with the business side of health care?  And this isn’t an ObamaCare issue, this is and has been “par for the course” activities in health care for a long time.  ObamaCare will just intensify the issues, potentially driving more and more doctors out of the “insurance business” when it comes to providing health care.

Dr. Warren

www.warreneyecarecenter.com

Make An Appointment