By the woman behind the desk!
A friend of mine has worked in OB/GYN offices for 2 decades and I asked her for some first hand tips to share with all my expectant mamas. Boy did she share a mouth full. Trust me and her that the office staff is a very important part of your experience and you will be spending a lot of time with them either in the office or on the phone.
This is what she said:
"Sooooo many things are important!"
Starting with, how are you treated on the telephone by the staff?
You should call the office like at lunch and see how long it takes for someone to call you back. Some offices ask for 24 hours! Those little things are important and can make or break a good experience.
Is it easy to get a live person on the phone and how quickly can you get in?
If you can't get a 1st appointment in a timely fashion you probably won't get in faster down the road.
Does the office acknowledge you when you walk in?
Do they apologize if you have to wait or tell you immediately if the doctor is behind schedule?
Make sure to check office hours. Some doctors have no flexibility in their schedules.
Is the nurse likable and smart? You will be spending time with her as well.
And I cannot stress enough the importance of the office staff. The doctor may be great but if you can't reach, see or talk to him because of some person that answers the phone or the nurse who is your connection to the doctor is not bright and doesn't listen or seem to care about you then she probably doesn't.
A good doctor has a great nurse who is capable and smart. You need to like everyone for a positive experience.
Is the billing office on site or at another location? Believe me the billing office will be very important for women with money concerns. If it's offsite with another phone #, it's probably very hard to reach someone and once you do they won't know you or care about you. If billing is in the office you can get to know them since you'll be there a lot and they will totally help you if you are nice to them.
Ask about what insurance the doctor takes , what billing policies do they have, and ask if the hospital also takes your insurance?
Get up to speed on your health insurance coverage for prenatal visits, delivery, and the care of your child. Not all insurances cover maternity care and make sure that the doctor takes your insurance. The time to ask if the doctor is a network provider, for your specific insurance, is on the phone prior to coming in. NOT at the front desk, especially if money is a concern. Insurance for the most part is complicated, and the responsibility will fall on you, not the doctor to know your insurance's policy specifics. If you want to know specifically how much you will have to pay the doctor, ask the insurance not the doctor. And do this ahead of your appointment, not when u are there doing your paperwork.
Find out what your deductible is because that is the amount of money you will have to pay out of pocket before the insurance will pay anything to the doctor. A little work ahead of time can save you thousands of dollars. Any doctor’s office will be happy to answer what they can or at least tell you the right questions to ask your insurance so you will get the answer you are looking for.
If you are planning on getting pregnant....... you should get insurance before getting pregnant. Once you are pregnant, you have a preexisting condition and most insurances will not give you a new policy if you have preexisting conditions and if they do, u will pay rates out of this world! It would be wise to get insurance with maternity coverage at least 3 - 6 months before getting pregnant. Insurance doesn't kick in right away. Unfortunately most people don't know this.
Is the doctor in solo practice or is it a big clinic?
Who takes the doctors call when he or she is out of town?
Lots of doctors share patients with several doctors so if you don't like them all, you may be out of luck if a doctor you don't like is on call when you go into labor. Some doctors encourage planned cesarean births or inductions because they don't like getting up in the middle of the night so be sure you ask about the doctors views.
What does the doctor think about natural birth? Home birth? V-backs? Birthing plans etc. Lots of doctors do whatever they want even if the patient asks otherwise. So it is good to talk to other woman who have used that doctor for their births.
Is the doctor experienced with high - risk pregnancies? If there are medical issues, does the doctor take the time to review history and get previous records to review or do they not care?
Do you get more than 5 min with the doctor?
Does he or she seem in a hurry? If they are in a hurry for the 1st appointment you can bet down the road they will get shorter.
Is there a Nurse Practitioner or does the doctor see all his patients?
It is important to remember that you and your health care provider need to be a good fit. A Match!!! Bring the husband- does he like the doctor? Does the doctor ignore the husband? Some doctors do.
Use your instincts or your gut? What's your gut telling you? Do you have a nagging feeling? How does your body feel being around that person?? You can even ask yourself…… Will my baby feel safe with that person? Would I leave my baby with him/her for a weekend?? If the answer is NO….. move on.
Don't forget L&D nurses:
L&D (Labor and Delivery) nurses are a good resource because they will tell you anything. If you are unsure about the doctor, ask the nurses at L&D (labor and delivery) what they think about a certain doctor. Believe me they will tell you!
P.S This is good information for mid-wives too!
Question: Have you experience any insurance, office staff or doctors office surprises? I would love to hear from you so please tell me your story in the comment box below.
If you find this information useful please feel free to share it with your friends and loved ones.