Medical Service FAQ’s
What is the difference between a "physical" and a "wellness" visit for Medicare or Medicare Advantage patients?
There has been much confusion surrounding what Medicare considers a “physical”. Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans will pay for something called a “wellness visit”. This is an important visit and you should take advantage of the fact that it is a covered benefit if you are a Medicare or Medicare Advantage member. This visit is not a physical examination. It does not have to be performed by a physician. It is more of a “talking” appointment. We update your health history and your family history. We make sure we have a current list of any other doctors that you are seeing. We do a brief assessment of your memory and screen for depression. We make sure we have an accurate list of your medications, vitamins and supplements. We ask questions about the safety of your home such as do you have working smoke detectors, have loose rugs on the floor etc. We also discuss any age appropriate screenings that you may be due for.
A “physical” is a complete physical examination. The doctor examines you from head to toe. We actually incorporate much of the content listed above but unfortunately, Medicare does not cover a physical exam. Some Medicare Advantage plans do cover a physical exam. You should consult your own plan to determine if a physical exam is covered. Our physicians feel like it is important for everyone to have a routine physical exam on a regular basis.
What is the difference between an office call and a routine physical exam?
An office call is a visit that is for a specific problem. For example you might have an office call to follow up on your blood pressure or to review lab work.
A routine physical exam is a head to toe examination. It is also a time for you and your physician to discuss any concerns that you may be having regarding your health.
How often do I need a routine physical exam?
Our physicians feel like routine physical exams are very important for persons of every age. How often depends on your age and your health. Some folks have a routine physical exam every year while others get a physical every two or three years. How often you get a physical should be decided on by you and your physician. This is the time that you can discuss with your physician all aspects of wellness including health goals, routine screenings that may be due in addition to any concerns you may have. During this visit, you will also be examined from “head to toe”.
What if I get sick after hours or on the weekend?
We have a physician on call after normal business hours or on the weekends. You simply call the office phone number, 828-258-1188 and follow the prompts to be connected to the “on call physician”.
When is it appropriate to go to the Emergency Department?
The emergency department of the hospital is what the name says. It is where you go when you are experiencing an emergency. An emergency is when you have trouble breathing, uncontrollable bleeding, uncontrollable pain, chest pain, symptoms of a heart attack or symptoms of a stroke etc. You should not go to the emergency department because you have a cold, sore throat, upset stomach etc. We have a physician on call that can help you with non-emergency situations when the office is closed. If you are in doubt about whether or not you should go to the emergency department, call our office, 828-258-1188 and the “on call physician” can help you determine if a trip to the emergency department is appropriate.
If I go to the hospital, will my physician see me there?
Our physicians do not see patients in the hospital. The hospital has physicians that will see you while you are in the hospital. They are specialists in hospitalized patients. They are called hospitalists. Our physicians will be happy to speak with the hospitalist if they have specific questions about you or your history. We will be happy to provide them with your medical record if they need it. When you are released from the hospital, we will resume your care and we will be provided with a copy of your hospital records.
How long do I have to fast if I am having fasting lab work?
Ideally, you should fast for 12 hours before you have fasting lab work. You can still take your medication, brush your teeth and have water or black coffee with nothing in it.
If I am having fasting lab work, can I still take my medication?
You can take your medications, brush your teeth and have water or black coffee with nothing in it.
What are the ours of operation?
Normal office hours are 8 am to 5 pm but we offer extended hours from 7 am to 8 am and 5 pm to 5:30 pm.
What is the cancellation policy?
We ask that you contact us as soon as you know that you will not be able to keep your appointment. Appointments for physical exams are scheduled 6 to 12 months in advance and consist of an hour out of the physician’s schedule. We ask for at least 24 hours notice when one of these appointments must be cancelled or changed so that we have time to try and offer the time slot to someone else.
Do you have same day appointments?
We do have same day appointments. Each physician has specific times set aside each day for appointments that can only be scheduled on that same day. Call our main number, 828-258-1188 to schedule an appointment.
When should I get my flu shot?
The Center for Disease Control recommends that everyone get a flu shot and recommends that you get your flu shot as soon as the supply becomes available. We typically get our shipment of flu vaccine in early to mid September. We will have a message on the website as well as the telephone. We give flu shots without an appointment every day from 8 am to 5 pm. It usually takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish.
What should I bring with me when I see the doctor?
Every time you see the physician you should bring all of your medications, your insurance card or cards, your copay if you have one and a list of what you would like to discuss during your visit.
Can I pay my bill online?
We do have online bill pay through our secure patient portal. We accept Visa, Mastercard and Discover.
What is the best way to communicate with the office?
You can call our main number, 828-258-1188, or you can message us through our secure patient portal.
What is the best way to get a prescription refill?
You can either contact your pharmacy and they will contact us or you can call or message the office through the patient portal. If you call, you will leave a message with your doctor’s medical assistant. Please leave us your name, date of birth, medication needed and pharmacy. We do ask that you give us 24 hours to complete your request. The same process will work if you message us through the portal.