How Our Office Works
ROUTINES & PROCEDURES
This booklet will explain how our office works and why we have set up certain routines and procedures. After you've read it through, keep it in a convenient place. You may want to refer to the information from time to time.
Most important of all, if you have questions that we have not addressed, please call and ask about them.
And if you have concerns, or complaints, please let us know so that we can look for ways to change and do better.
Our main office is located at 1901 Port Lane
Amarillo, Texas 79106
Satellite Offices are located in:
Borger, Canyon, Dalhart, Hereford, Pampa, Perryton, and Tulia
Call our office for the clinic closest to your residence.
The main office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Please call for office hours for the Satellite Clinics.
DOCTORS ON CALL
Cardiologists are "on call" outside of regular office hours for emergencies. It is not possible for a cardiologist to make medical decisions without a physical examination and your medical record. All care and instructions of your cardiologist must be recorded in your medical record. Accordingly, a cardiologist will not make treatment decisions without your medical record or based upon an undocumented telephone conversation. If you have an emergency, you should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Amarillo Heart Group is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
EMERGENCIES OUTSIDE REGULAR OFFICE HOURS
If you are having an emergency, such as an angina attack that does not subside even after taking your prescribed medication, or you are experiencing shortness of breath, you should have someone take you to the hospital emergency room rather than calling and waiting to hear from the cardiologist.
All of the Clinic's cardiologists have full staff privileges at Baptist St. Anthony Health System and Northwest Texas Healthcare System hospitals. An emergency room physician will see you and call your cardiologist if the emergency is a cardiac problem. Make sure you ask the emergency room physician to call the Amarillo Heart Group cardiologist. The cardiologist on call will be able to see you at either emergency room.
NUMBER TO CALL
There is only one number to call to reach Amarillo Heart Group, whether you are calling during regular hours, at night, or during weekends:
WHEN YOU CALL THE OFFICE
Your call will be given to a staff member specifically trained to help with your question or problem.
Calling About a Health Problem
When you are calling with a health-related question for your cardiologist, your call will be transferred to a nurse who is specially trained to gather the pertinent information about your condition and relay and discuss it with your cardiologist. Since all of the nurses work with all of the cardiologists at the Clinic, any nurse you speak with will be able to help you.
There are two separate teams of nurses to handle telephone calls at the Clinic. One team takes your incoming calls and one team only makes outgoing calls to you. And so, while you'll discuss your problem with one nurse, someone else will call you later with the information you need. This two-team approach enables us to return calls more quickly because each time concentrates, uninterrupted, on the task at hand.
When you call and the operator asks "How may I direct your call", tell her you are calling about a health problem. Here is what will happen:
The operator will connect you with a nurse who will take your information and ask several questions about your condition, about any medication you are taking, when the problem began, etc.
The nurse will give this information to your cardiologist who will review it and write a note with instructions to you.
A staff nurse will call to tell you what your cardiologist has advised.
Your cardiologist may not be immediately available when you call (he or she may be with patients in the hospital or in the office), but you will receive a call back later in the day. If your question is not about an immediate health problem (i.e. perhaps you're calling to ask whether it will be all right for you to travel by air for a planned vacation), you may receive a call back the next day instead of the same day.
If You Are Having an Emergency
If, for example, you are experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath, tell the operator immediately: Your call will be given top priority if you are having an emergency.
Calling to Schedule an Appointment
When you call and the operator asks "How may I direct your call", tell her you want to make an appointment to see the cardiologist.
The operator will ask whether you are calling for a routine checkup or with a pressing health problem.
If your appointment is for a routine checkup, your call will be given to a scheduler who will book a time for you.
If you want to see the cardiologist for a non-routine health related problem, your call will be given to a nurse who will ask several questions about the problem. The nurse will tell you whether an immediate appointment is needed, and will route your call to a scheduler who will make the appointment.
The "Team Approach"
There may be times when you will need an immediate appointment and your regular cardiologist is away or has a full schedule. Here at the Clinic we have set up a system whereby if your own cardiologist is unavailable, you can be seen by another cardiologist who will be able to consult your carefully detailed medical records and be up-to-date on your condition and treatment.
If at some time you need treatment in the hospital, you may be seen not only by your own cardiologist, but also by other clinic cardiologists. All of our medical staff members who see you on hospital rounds read the results of your diagnostic tests and confer about your treatment and progress. (See the booklet entitled "Your Cardiovascular Health Care Team").
Calling to Have a Prescription Refilled
There are staff members exclusively assigned to handling prescriptions. When you call:
Tell the operator you need to have a prescription filled.
Your call will be routed to the appropriate staff member who will write down your information and call your pharmacist.
Please have all the necessary information (i.e. prescription number and date, name of pharmacy) available with you when you call.
Please Plan Ahead
It is a very good idea to plan ahead and call for prescription refills when you still have three or four days of medication left. The pharmacies serving our community fill hundreds of prescriptions in a typical week, and so it can take a bit of time after you call with your request. It's also a good idea to call the pharmacy before you go there to be sure your prescription is ready.
Calling to Obtain Copies of Your Records
We need three days notice to prepare copies of your records. When you call with your request, you'll be asked to complete and sign a "Records Release" form giving your permission along with exact information as to where they are going. A copy of the records will be made, and then we'll either mail them to you or to the doctor you designate. If you prefer, you can come to the office to pick them up.
WHEN YOU COME TO THE OFFICE FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT
Most of us begin to feel impatient when we arrive on time for an appointment, and then find we have to wait. We understand that feeling, and so we work diligently to schedule appointments in a way that will minimize your waiting time.
Our office runs very smoothly and generally keeps on schedule. But there are those days when some patients need extra time with the cardiologist, or when an emergency is being handled. That's when there can be interruptions in the regular schedule that make your waiting time longer. We ask for your understanding when that happens, and we promise to keep on looking for ways to improve.
WHEN YOU COME TO SEE THE CARDIOLOGIST
First, you'll be shown into an examination room where a nurse will check your blood pressure, pulse, and update information in your chart.
Next, your cardiologist will see you in the examination room.
After you've seen the cardiologist, you'll be shown to the Appointments Desk, where you can schedule appointments for any follow-up visits or diagnostic tests that your cardiologist may have recommended.
WHEN YOU COME FOR A DIAGNOSTIC TEST
Information about the procedure
If your cardiologist has recommended a special diagnostic test, you'll be given printed information describing the test and telling you what you need to do in preparation.
Confirmation of your appointment
Someone in the office will call a day or so before your test to remind you about the date and time of your appointment.
When you come to the office for your test, you may be given a consent form to sign. These forms must, by law, state potential risk factors involved in the test, and sometimes people find that upsetting. Please don't be alarmed, and please understand that they are routine and required.
The person who handles your account will have the most up-to-date insurance guidelines and regulations for Medicare and private insurance, and can fill out and file all the necessary forms for you. So don't hesitate to call or, if you can, come to the business office to meet in person and go over all the questions you have.
Learning the results
Our policy is to have you return to visit with your cardiologist to learn the results of diagnostic tests. We will call to tell you your lab test results. If we are not able to reach you by phone after three calls, we'll send a letter asking you to call the office about your lab results. Once again, please don't be alarmed if you get a letter, it only means we could not reach you when we called.
THE BUSINESS OFFICE - MEDICAL INSURANCE AND BILLING
One of the most frustrating tasks can be wading through the forms and regulations involved in filing medical insurance claims. Because of this, we have set up procedures in our business office to help you with that paperwork.
There will be a specific person in the business office assigned to handle your account. And so, whenever you have a question or need someone to assist you with your claim forms, ask for that person when you call.
When you come to the office for an examination or a diagnostic test, you'll be given a bill for services. We participate in the Medicare program, which means we accept the fees that are set by the program for our services. So if you are covered by Medicare it will pay 80% of the approved cost of services. You are responsible for paying the remaining 20% of the costs. If you have additional health insurance coverage for this 20%, we will file your insurance and bill you for any balance they do not pay.
Filing claims with private carriers can also be quite confusing, and so if a private carrier insures you, we file all of your claims. If you have questions, the person who handles your account in the business office will gladly work with you to expedite your insurance claims.