How to Prepare for your Podiatry Visit

Hello friends!  This is Tana, your friendly Patient Coordinator for Austin Foot and Ankle checking in this month with some tips for your first trip to the doctor. Going to the doctor can be a scary ordeal, especially if it's a new office visit. Don't worry: our team is here to make it a little easier on you. Take a look at some of our favorite tips to prepare you to see the doctor.
Scheduling an Appointment:  So many new patients call and ask our office if we are currently accepting new patients.  Yes! Here at Austin Foot and Ankle, we are always doing our best to accommodate your needs to see Dr. Thomajan. The best way to get an appointment is to call our office and request a date and time. But before you touch that dial, you're going to need a few things:
1. Your insurance card. I have a team member here who calls YOUR insurance company and verifies all your benefits for you prior to your first time visit. That way, we make sure you're covered before we start strapping on casts or braces.
2. A working phone number, date of birth, and social security number. If you are calling on behalf of someone else it helps to have all this information at hand.
3. A pen and paper. The best types of patients are the prepared ones. Write down your appointment time, the day, and also any instructions we give you. Here at AFAS, our website is a helpful tool in finding our intake form to fill out before you come in, directions to our office, and also biographies on the crew so you can get to know us prior to your visit. Take down that website address! Nothing takes away pre-game jitters like scoping out the other team, right?

What to Bring: We've all been to those doctors' offices and had to fill out mountains of paperwork before even setting foot in a treatment room.  That paperwork is indeed necessary, so lets make it easier on you from the start.
1. New Patient Intake Form. Found on our website, this form lists your medical history, current complaints, as well as demographics and also your HIPAA privacy notices.  You are also signing an agreement to allow the doctor to treat you, so having this filled out completely is key. Also, we encourage you to include any medical history you have from other doctors (xrays, physicals, medicine/supplement lists, labs, etc)
2. Insurance Card (s) and Photo ID. Remember when you called to make your appointment? I hope you had your insurance card handy because you'll need it again when you check in. We also ask our patients to provide a photo ID, just to have on file.
3. Form of Payment. Your copay is due before each visit, and is subject to your contract with insurance. Also, if the doctor recommends any over-the-counter solutions to your common foot issues, we have many of those on hand for your convenience. Most of these are not covered under insurance, however.

Great! We're almost done! You've scheduled your appointment and have filled out your new patient intake form.  But are you really prepared? Get all your questions answered and avoid miscommunication with these easy pointers: 
1. Bring your pen and paper to your visit! According to Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely: Making Intelligent Choices in America's Healthcare System)  "A Mayo Clinic study found that patients remember less than half of what doctors tell them."  Write down what the doctor says and ask lots of questions! You can even write a list beforehand and cross them off as you cover them.
2. Do your homework. Are you interested in orthotics or have questions on a bunion surgery? Since you're on our website feel free to search our library and blogs. Also do a web search and provide anything you find interesting or would like clarification on.
3. Call ahead! We confirm your appointment the day beforehand, but if you are unsure of your appointment time we are more than happy to look it up for you. When in doubt, arrive early.
4. Don't be intimidated! We are all here to help you get better, and we are always doing our very best to serve you. Come on in and say hello, and we're happy to get you checked in. Don't be afraid to speak up, get your questions answered, and voice your opinion! If there is something we can make better we'd love to hear about it.
5. And finally, close your visit by remembering this acronym: DATE
- stands for diagnosis. Again, have the doctor write it down or spell it so you can copy it to your notes.
 A- additional tests. Do you need lab work? How about pathology? Make sure you're leaving with everything you need.
 T- treatment plan.  Are you clear about what the next step is? Do you need to start or stop medication? How about physical therapy? It's a good idea to find out!
 E- exams/evaluations. And lastly, do you need follow up? How soon should you come back, and what signs do you need to look for in case you need to be seen earlier?

Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
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Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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