Scheduling Policies and Procedures
No one wants to spend their time sitting in the waiting room. We are very mindful of just how busy life is for you and for us. We hope to demonstrate to you that we respect your time and appreciate that you have chosen The ChildHealth Center, PA to care for your child. We are also mindful that it will take mutual cooperation in order to reduce the time you spend waiting to be seen. It is our responsibility to provide a flexible schedule and to be attentive to your appointment needs. We ask that you become familiar with the appointment guidelines below. If both we and you do our parts, we can keep your waiting time to a minimum.
To obtain prompt medical service, please call our office as soon as possible during regular office hours. These hours are:
Monday-Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday 8:00 am - 3:30 pm (Phones answered until 10:00am for scheduling) (sick visits only)
We extend our weekday and weekend office hours due to patient demand. During winter flu, strep, and cold seasons, we may extend hours to better handle the high volume of sick patients. When we make such adjustments to our schedule we will also bill your insurance for an after hour office visit. Some insurances charge this cost to the patient, and others may require an additional co-pay. You should know what is covered in your insurance plan and how these charges would affect you. After hours charges are not simply arbitrary--like any business, we must pay our staff time and a half for overtime.
Making a sick appointment
Your time is important. Our goal is to provide the fastest possible service while providing your child with the highest possible pediatric care. Sick appointments are generally made on the day of the phone call. You should always call to make an appointment rather than simply coming to the office. We have paperwork to get ready, and need time to prepare for your office visit. Especially in the wintertime, it is important to call as early as possible in the day so that we can see your child that day. When you call, the receptionist will ask the nature of the appointment. This is not to be nosy, but by asking a few questions we can better determine how much time to allow for your visit. Most problems can be handled with a routine office visit, but other appointments, such as behavior problems, attention problems, and worsening of chronic conditions, require much more time.
Making a well child appointment
Bringing your child in for regular well-child checkups is a very important part of his health care. These visits allow us to evaluate your child's health, growth, and development, as well as maintain a regular schedule for vaccinations. This gives you the opportunity to address various issues that may be of concern to you. In some cases, evaluation of these problems may require more extensive examinations or laboratory evaluations that may require additional charges. If you have concerns about major problems, or have many questions, please let the receptionist know when you schedule the appointment so that we can be sure to allow extra time to address these concerns. Our physicians follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for well exams, immunizations, and developmental screenings.
We have set aside time each day for well-child checkups. Often the schedule fills quickly, and it may take two months or even longer to schedule a well visit. Please plan ahead and schedule our child's next appointment well in advance. At the same time, be aware that many insurance companies limit the frequency of well child exams. (For example, for an older child, your insurance company may say it will pay for only one exam each year. This generally means one exam every 366 days--any less and they will not cover the visit.) We deal with dozens of insurance companies, and it is just not possible for us to keep up with each and every plan. It is your responsibility to understand your coverage. If your insurance will not pay because the required interval between checkups has not been met, you will personally be responsible for the cost of our services. We will work with you to determine the extent of your coverage. If you need assistance, please ask us in advance of the office visit and we will help you in any way we can.
A special note: Because of the winter season schedule crunch, we ask that children four years of age and older have well checkups scheduled during the spring and summer time. This also minimizes the risk of a healthy child being exposed to illness.
Causes and solutions for long waits
We build ample time into our schedule to provide your child with the highest quality medical services. Nevertheless, even with our best efforts, we sometimes get behind. This causes your wait to be longer.
Some of these events are beyond our control. A typical event is a non-life threatening "medical emergency" that needs immediate attention, such as a hospitalization for a seriously ill child, a breathing problem (for example an infant with RSV or an asthma attack), a significant injury, or an alteration in consciousness (such as seizures). Sometimes, we must call specialists about a problem case in the office, which requires extra time, or we may be called by a family practitioner or urgent care physician for help with one of their cases.
Other events that cause us to fall behind are preventable. Below are some examples of these preventable delays and how you can help us avoid them:
Problem: Presenting with new problems or asking detailed questions not related to the original intention of the office visit. An example is asking about behavioral or sleep issues at an ear infection recheck visit.
Solution: When making an appointment, please be sure to tell the receptionist all the reasons for he appointment. This allows us to determine the time necessary to provide you with the service you need without us falling behind schedule.
Problem: Asking medical questions about a sibling. Whenever an unplanned event happens, it causes the physician to fall behind, such as getting questions about a child who is not being seen, or even asking for another child to be seen without an appointment.
Solution: If you have two or more sick children, please schedule an appointment for each of them individually. We will do our best to work the in during the same time period while allowing enough time for each child's problem to be assessed. Whether scheduled or not, all problems requiring medical attention result in the creation of an encounter and a bill to your insurance company. All appropriate co-pay or other charges apply.
Problem: Arriving late or early for an appointment.
Solution: There are few things having as big an impact on our schedule as patients arriving late for an appointment. When we can start an appointment on time, we are much better able to stay on time. We see patients by scheduled time, so arriving early, far in advance of the appointment, will only result in a longer wait. HOWEVER, you should arrive approximately ten minutes ahead of your scheduled sick appointment so that we can verify insurance and demographic information, and you should arrive ten to fifteen minutes ahead of well checkups because there are several questionnaires to complete.