Before the Appointment
In preparation for the initial appointment, it is important to ask a few questions at the time of scheduling.
What is the billing policy?
A facility may divide the bill based on services. For example, you may receive a bill from the surgeon as well as the hospital; similarly, PT/OT/Medical Imaging and other services may come as separate bills to you and your insurance company. It is important to understand that you may receive more than one bill.
What is the level of insurance participation of that hospital, practice, or other facility?
This may warrant a call to your specific insurance provider. Many facilities have offices dedicated to preauthorizations and referral requirements, however, it’s always a good idea to know exactly what your insurance policy requires and how they will issue payment and reimbursement.
What are the policies regarding cancellation and rescheduling of appointments?
What is the typical wait time if an appointment has to be rescheduled?
What should we bring with us at the time of the appointment?
Of course, it’s a good idea to have a photo ID, insurance information, and information regarding your child’s primary care provider. Many practices will request that you bring in a list of all medication, vitamins, and supplements your child is taking. Be prepared to answer questions regarding your child’s activity level, pain level, diet, demeanor, and hobbies. If you have medical records such as imaging (including Xrays and MRIs) it’s advised to bring these with you, even if you have submitted them prior to the appointment.
Many appointments are lengthy and involve multiple specialties such as PT, OT, imaging depending on the indication. Your surgeon will take ample time to answer all your questions just as he or she does with each patient; this may mean you are in the waiting room longer than you expected to be. A light snack and a few interesting books or small toys are a great idea to have on hand as well.
At the Appointment
Each surgeon and facility has specific protocols and preferences for initial and follow-up appointments. It’s not uncommon to be at the facility for the better part of the day due to the comprehensive nature of the appointment. Many facilities incorporate PT, OT, imaging and labs in the initial visit. The surgeon or a colleague will perform range of motion exercises to evaluate your child’s current range of motion. Imaging will also be evaluated. There will be time to discuss treatment options and questions with the surgeon.
How to make the most of the Appointment
Especially if you are traveling from out of town, be comfortable and well prepared. This varies for everyone but some tips are:
- Create a binder and keep copies of pertinent medical information inside. This may include copies of cards and forms, x rays, medical records. Bring this to each appointment.
- Start a journal to document your child’s mood, activity, pain level, and any specific changes. This can help both recollection and objectivity throughout the process and point out any patterns that may arise. Each child is unique!
- Spend some time thinking of questions for the surgeon. Jot these questions down as you think of them. Start with our Questions page!
- Dress comfortably and bring a light snack! No one is focused if they are hungry or uncomfortable; a pack of crackers and sneakers may make all the difference.
Lastly, consider bringing a friend who is not emotionally invested to act as a scribe. There will be lots of information in a short amount of time. Alternatively you may inquire, in advance, about the protocol regarding recording the session. Some facilities may have areas where this is permitted however laws protecting patient privacy may not make it possible to record a session in every facility.
You can download this tip sheet here: https://perthes.org/projects-archive/tips-appointment/