A visit to your gastroenterologist is an important part of staying healthy, especially as we grow older. Nevertheless, many people are unsure what to expect during their first visit. As a medical billing company that services multiple GI practices, we understand the importance of coming prepared to your visit. Here are 5 important things you can do to get ready. GI
1. Understand the reason for your GI visit.
Whether this is your first time seeing a gastroenterologist or returning for a follow up, it’s important to keep in mind why you are there. For many patients, the first time they visit a GI specialist will be in preparation for a screening colonoscopy at age 50. However, the doctor may not be provided with a detailed medical history prior to your visit. Keep in mind any personal or family history of GI related illnesses. If you are coming in with symptoms, make a detailed list of these as well as the frequency and severity. Providing the doctor with as much information as possible will help ensure all of your issues are addressed.
2. Make a list of questions.
In addition to knowing why you are there, it always helps to compile a list of questions for the doctor. These can be related to your symptoms, medical history, or a scheduled procedure. Some helpful questions include:
- What are common symptoms of GI tract issues?
- What organs are part of the GI tract?
- How do I make sure to prepare properly for a colonoscopy?
- How often should I schedule a GI visit?
- What can I do to keep my GI tract healthy?
3. Bring your medical records.
This is especially important if you have been referred by your primary care provider. Any test results or determinations made by a referring doctor are crucial in helping your GI doctor treat you properly. Try to obtain copies of the actual reports and images. If you are switching from one GI doctor to another, these records can save time and help customize your treatment. In many cases, the office will be able to help you request these documents from your referring physician. Therefore, it is worthwhile to call ahead and ask what information the doctor may need.
4. Take notes.
No one is perfect! There is nothing wrong with bringing a pen and paper or making notes on your phone during your visit. Many times the information provided to us can be overwhelming or difficult to understand. Taking notes ensures that you will remember assessments and recommendations made by your doctor. Likewise, it can also help you compile new questions or research your GI issues after the visit. You may receive a breakdown of what was discussed with your doctor after the visit. However, having information written in your own words can sometimes be easier to understand. Don’t be afraid to ask the doctor to repeat something — being thorough helps the doctor help you!
5. Contact your insurance company before your GI visit.
This is an important but often overlooked step in preparing for any doctor’s visit or procedure. It is never safe to assume that your insurance will cover all costs in full. There are several factors that can affect the way an insurance company considers a claim. Be sure to verify that your GI doctor is in network with your insurance, and if not, what out of network benefits you have. In addition, because a GI doctor is considered a specialist, be aware of any referrals that the insurance carrier requires in order to process the claim.
If you are having a procedure such as a colonoscopy, it is once again important to know why you are coming in for the procedure. Understand the difference between what your insurance company considers a diagnostic procedure and a routine screening. In the case of a screening colonoscopy, most insurance companies will only pay in full if you are over 50 and have not had the procedure within the past ten years. Find out what rules and limitations your insurance company has regarding screenings well in advance of your procedure. Finally, be aware that these rules can change from year to year, so contact your carrier before every visit.
Knowledge is power. Visiting your gastroenterologist does not need to be complicated or overwhelming as long as you prepare. Equipping yourself with the right information and questions will ensure that you get the most out of your GI visit. For more information and tips, please visit the GI Society.
Disclaimer: The materials contained on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal or other professional advice on any subject matter. Advanced Medical Practice Management does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site.