This title is somewhat of a misnomer because, although we develop good relationships and even friendships with our patients, we don’t play favorites. Affording every one of our patients the same care and attention and practicing objective dentistry are some of the ways we avoid conflicts of interest that can interfere with proper, impartial diagnosis and treatment. However, we have found that we are able to communicate far better with the patients who follow a certain set of guidelines when they come into our office. Following these guidelines helps patients get the most out of their visit, and saves them from stress, confusion, frustration, and time wasted.
1. Inform Yourself
People come in to our office every day afraid, stressed out, and sometimes reactive. These mindsets tend to put up barriers between us and our patients, making patients less receptive of the skills, knowledge, experience, and tools we provide to assist them. We’ve found that the best way to allay our patients’ fears, whether the fears stem from pending treatment or financial constraints, is to build trust. We do this by honestly and objectively walking them through treatment plan options, policies, and when it comes time for it, the procedure.
There’s only so much we can do to inform you before you come in for a visit. We don’t know how much your treatment will cost if we haven’t even seen your mouth. We don’t know how much your insurance will cover until we do our due diligence by calling up the carrier, spending 20-minutes on hold, and extracting the benefit information from your insurance company. That’s why it helps for patients to familiarize themselves with their insurance benefits. Dental benefits are very different from medical (we equate dental insurance to an annual gift certificate rather than actual insurance coverage), and oral surgery billing is different than general dentistry. It also helps immensely to go to our website www.albanyoms.com. In the drop down menu from the Patient Information tab there are videos you can watch explaining different procedures, and you can find all sorts of other great information about our office, treatments, financing, and more. Send us an email at [email protected] if you have questions or if you want to schedule an appointment, and you will get a prompt response. If you’d prefer the more traditional method, give us a call at (510) 526-8000. We want our patients to feel comfortable and confident when they arrive at our office, and being informed is the best medicine in this respect.
2. Come Prepared
Having all of your proverbial ducks in a row before you come in to our office will make your visit smoother, a more efficient use of your time, more informative, and even enjoyable. Below we’ve listed all the ducks you should get lined up by the time you see us.
• Fill out your registration forms online to save time. (Our waiting room is nice, but you’re not coming here for the free WiFi and coffee.)
• Allow enough time in your schedule for the appointment. We will give you the best estimate of how long the appointment will take, but it can vary depending on how many questions you have for the surgeon, or due to unexpected delays in our schedule. If we anticipate delays we will do our best to reach you before you come in.
• Bring your referral slip from the referring dentist or doctor. Bring any recent x-rays your dentist gives you.
• Bring a list of questions for the surgeon. Review our website for information to familiarize yourself with the oral surgery lingo.
• Bring a list of current medications you are taking, or bring in your medication bottles.
• Bring your dental and medical insurance cards and a photo ID.
• If you have dental insurance, familiarize yourself with your benefits and how they work.
• Call your insurance company to see if they will cover your visit. Ask them at what percentage they will cover, and how much is left of your maximum. We are happy to give you the procedure codes to see if your particular procedure will be covered.
• Call in advance to give us your insurance information so that we can verify your coverage if you wish for us to do so.
• Call to ask us what will likely be done during your visit.
• Bring a form of payment.
• Ask us about options for financing your visit.
3. The Golden Rule
There is a lot of behind the scenes work, coordination, and planning that goes in to a single appointment. Our patients receive the benefit of decades of experience the doctor and staff have in running an efficient, professional surgical facility. We literally spend the large majority of our waking hours taking care and thinking of our patients’ well-being. With all that said, we aren’t perfect.
On occasion our schedule is thrown off –a patient comes in a little late and the schedule snowballs, we get an emergency patient we have to fit in, or the surgeon opens up someone’s mouth and finds an unexpected new challenge. There are things in surgery we can’t always anticipate. Our primary concern is with the health and safety of our patients, and addressing these concerns can sometimes get in the way with our running a tight schedule. We will do our best to call you in advance to let you know if we are running late. Please feel free to call our office before you leave for your appointment to check if we are running on time. Otherwise, it is helpful to make sure you allow a conservative amount of time in your own schedule for your appointment, and keep in mind that there is a grand scale of often critical patient concerns that we have to address at any given moment.
On top of his daily schedule of seeing patients, our surgeon is here long before the day begins and long after it ends to write notes, review x-rays, call patients, and discuss cases with referring doctors. Sometimes the surgeon is unable to give an immediate response to your call, or immediately follow up with you after your appointment. Don’t hesitate to call with questions or ask for an update of your case status. We are here to help you for the benefit of your health and well-being, we only ask for your understanding of any time constraints in getting back to you.
It is our practice to give you a conservative estimate of treatment costs. The large majority of our estimates are greater than the actual cost of treatment. On a rare occasion the treatment estimate we give you overestimates the amount your insurance will actually cover, or underestimates the actual amount due. Please realize that we are basing our estimates off of the information you, your referring dentist, and your insurance carrier give to us. If you are unsatisfied with your insurance coverage, talk to your employer, or the entity you get your coverage through. The reason insurance companies have begun to cover things like dental implants is because employees are talking to their employers, causing the employer to change their plans, which in turn forces the insurance companies to change their policies to tailor to consumer demands.
We absolutely love to hear your feedback. The feedback we’ve received from our patients over the years has been hands down more valuable than any business or patient care consultant could have ever given us. In the past we have used such constructive critiques to change our entire business practices and the services our facility offers. Know that at our office your voice will be heard, so there is no need to raise your voice, or speak to our staff disrespectfully. Treat us as you would want us to treat you.
4. You are the Keeper of Your Health
It’s sometimes easy to lose your individual sense of free will when you’re caught up in the healthcare system. Insurance companies try to dictate which doctor you can see, and doctors send you around to specialists who recommend a treatment you may need, but don’t necessarily understand why.
We see patient care as a collaborative effort in which the patient plays at the very least an equal part. Our part involves using our diagnostic tools and specialized knowledge to keep you informed about your health, and to help you along your best course of treatment. Your part involves being the keeper of your health, meaning your health is ultimately your responsibility. If you choose to come in to our office, you are personally and financially accountable for your visit. Having control over the fate of your own health is really an empowering notion, and we are here to guide you if need be.