Doctors in any of these fields can serve as a primary care physician and have a team to serve you, however you may want to consider finding a geriatrician. A geriatrician is a doctor who specializes in the medical, social, and psychological issues that concern people 65 and older. Just as a pediatrician tends to the needs of a child, a geriatrician cares for the special needs of changing seniors. Geriatricians approach each patient’s needs individually, and possess the knowledge and expertise needed to accommodate seniors.
Other topics that should be explored when establishing a new medical provider or when speaking with your current medical provider:
1. Do you visit your patients in the hospital? If so, which hospital(s) do you have medical privilege?
2. You were highly recommended. How often will I have face to face interaction with you during my medical visits? Or, will I mostly see one of your nurse practitioners, or another medical doctor within your practice?
3. Upon discharge from a hospital, you should have a medical appointment with your primary care physician. Often, it can be difficult to get a medical appointment with a primary care physician within 48 hours upon discharge from a hospital. What are your guidelines and policies regarding 24- 48 hours follow up for patients were recently discharged from a hospital?
4. Who is your preferred home health agency for skilled services (physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc.)?
5. Which nursing home facilities, assisted living facilities and independent living facilities does your physician group see patients?
6. End-of-Life planning/ discussion is often minimized. How comfortable are you with discussing end-of-life planning with my loved one? How soon do you, as a medical provider, initiate the conversation about end-of-life planning?
7. How often do you complete a medication review with your patients? (Note: Medicare pays for annual medical review). This is when your primary medical physician reviews your medications with you, and make appropriate changes as needed. Remember, just because you have been on a specific medication for months or years, does not mean that you still need that medication. As you get older, the ability for your organs that normally functions to break down medications do not always function as well.
8. How often do you attend continuing education to remain up to date on medical research, trends, and medications?
9. How soon can I expect to hear back from you or your lead nurse regarding medical questions about my care or medication refills?
10. When you are traveling or unavailable, who covers your patients? Will I be notified when you are not available in a timely manner?
11. Do you have any plans of leaving your practice, or your current physician group, within the next 6 months?
12. Do you have a nutritionist on staff to assist with meal management?
13. How do you address polypharmacy (taking multiply medications) with your patients?
Questions courtesy of Kizzy Caldwell – Aging Life Care Professional www.rrcaremanagement.com
Many Physician practices are now owned by large hospital systems. Their billing and other services are now part of the hospital network. Due to changes in Medicare and fee for service rather than reimbursement for time spent with patients, some physicians are no long accepting Medicare patients. If an Older Person has chronic medical conditions, it is advisable to find a physician who specializes in Geriatrics.
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