Diving in Head First: Part I

Diving in Head First: Part I

Medical Appointments

When I talk to people about what I do, I often hear their personal story.  Everyone has dealt with someone getting older in their life.  These stories begin slightly different but often end with similar frustrations.  I understand as a previous critical care nurse.  I, too, relied heavily on patient families for information to help care for their parent even when I was the nursing professional with access to an electronic health record.  Information and communication is a fundamental component to Health Planner's care coordination model.  

This five-part series called "Diving in Head First" will walk you through the framework Health Planner advocates use with their families.  If you are taking on the role of caregiver, this publication series will help you quickly assess the situation and acquire needed information to organize care for an aging parent.

The first step is to organize information.  This publication tackles medical appointments.  Often, there is an appointment book, appointment reminder cards, a wall calendar or even a Google calendar.  Your parent may or may not know why they see each provider, which is not critical to know at the moment.  Being a paper person, I start with a manila file folder.  On the inside, I will write each provider's name, office address, office phone & fax number, and space (to complete later if unknown) for the type of provider (cardiologist, urologist, primary care, etc.).  Using the power of Google, the time spent compiling this list will save you time in the future making appointments, filling out forms, answering questions and in the case of an emergency.  

Now armed with a list of providers, the next step is to determine if your parent has an appointment in the future or if one needs to be scheduled.  Calling each provider's office, you will be asked to identify your relationship, name the patient, and provide your parent's date of birth.  If there are no future appointments scheduled, you should ask when the last one was for your parent.  If over six months, then the follow-up question to ask is if your parent needs to schedule a future date.  If the front office does not have an answer, you can ask to leave a message with the nurse of your parent's medical provider.  Expect calls to be returned within 24-48 hours depending on the number of patients seen at the office.  Any appointment dates you learn, load into your calendar tracking system.  For me,  I enter future dates on my electronic business calendar and set a reminder.  

If you are stepping into more a crisis with a parent who is unable to list names of providers, a quick solution is accessing this information via your parent's insurance website.  With your parent's permission, you can access MyMedicare.gov or find their Medicare Advantage plan website on the back of their insurance card.  If your parent has not established an on-line account, then with their permission, you will use their insurance card, Medicare card, and date of birth (DOB) to create an account.  Each insurance company receives a billing claim from any provider or facility able to bill Medicare who has seen your parent in the past 24 months.  Often listed on the website is a provider list you can view


A growing trend I am witnessing is the partnership of Medicare plans and iBlueButton.  iBlueButton serves as a platform to translate billing claims into an electronic health record you can download through a mobile device.  Given the complicated nature of billing codes, iBlueButton simplifies the information into a record of medications, providers, last dates of hospital stays, ER visits, X-rays, labs & procedures.  With the permission of past clients, I would use iBlueButton at provider appointments.  While a useful tool in obtaining initial information and checking on information here and there, I utilized the mobile app twice in the past six months.  

Congratulations! You now have started the first step in organizing your parent's care coordination file.  

Please check back next week for Diving in Head First Part II: Medication Management.

Health Planner wants to hear your family's story!  Please reach out to tell us confidentially via our contact page or call us at (317) 572-9011.  We want to hear how you handle coordinating the care of your parent.  With your permission, PBJ could feature your story or question on future publications!  You can also leave questions & comments on publications to give your insights and experiences.  The more we all talk about what it is like to age in the American health system the quicker we can identify the needs and solutions.   

Disclaimer: All content provided on PBJ is out of the experiences and knowledge of one individual.  Your situation may require further expert guidance.  Always consult a licensed professional regarding health and legal matters.  In reading, you agree no medical or health-related decisions will be based solely on information contained on PBJ.  The website may update posts without specific notice to you.  Links to other sites provide convenience to the reader.  Resources listed and linked are in no affiliation with Health Planner unless noted.  Each post and comment section are open to the public for viewing and comment.  If there is a need to share private health information, please contact us via the Contact form or call Health Planner at (317) 572-9011.  

Diving in Head First: Part II

Diving in Head First: Part II