How to prepare for a consultation with a specialist

By Jessica Spiegel | June 22, 2017

When confronted with a new diagnosis, managing an ongoing health issue, or contemplating surgery, today’s healthcare system makes it difficult to feel confident in your next steps. Finding the right specialist is especially hard. Once you do, preparing for the consultation will make the difference between a session that yields a confident next step, and one that leads to more confusion. Here are some interesting facts:

  • The average doctor’s appointment lasts 13-16 minutes¹
  • On average, 0-2 questions are asked during a doctor’s visit²
  • Only 50% of people walk out of appointments feeling confident in their next steps²

At Summus, our physician-led process helps members understand their diagnosis or health question through consulting with top specialists. Most importantly, it gives them knowledge, confidence, and the peace of mind to move forward and make informed medical decisions.

Physician-led evaluation and preparation maximizes the benefits of an Expert Consultation and are grounded in five consistent steps:

  1. Active conversation and evaluation All new cases begin with a Summus MD, who is trained in emergency or internal medicine. Each Summus MD guides the consultation process by helping members understand their health issue concretely and identifying the right specialists for their phone or video consultation. Finding the right specialist early is vital. There are 19.7 million misdirected referrals each year³. Connecting with our trusted team is a critical first step.
  2. Intake and medical history – Understanding a member’s medical history and preferences is an important next step to analyze and select the right specialist. Summus MDs lead a thorough and efficient intake process to inform a specialist match. We understand you first, then we go into our network.  
  3. Intelligent navigation and match process – In many cases, the best specialist might not be close to home. Experience treating the same diagnosis, along with training and knowledge on specific related factors, are all important when choosing a specialist. Choosing from our network of 4,000 physicians across 35 academic hospitals gives our members powerful leverage. Your path to answers is expedited when you get guidance from a specialist who has the exact expertise you require.
  4. Preparation and Questions – After a member reviews the Summus MD’s suggested physician matches and makes a choice, the right preparation questions at the ideal level of specificity create the structure for the most effective consultation. To get a member ready, a Summus MD prepares a list of detailed questions tailored to the individual’s particular diagnosis and medical history, to serve as a guide during the consultation. As an example, here are a few questions for a recent consultation on cervical stenosis:
    • Is cervical stenosis assuredly progressive? Is there a way to predict the rate?
    • I have been told that the risk of observation is traumatic injury when sustaining a fall. How realistic is this risk?
    • What does the surgery entail – both mechanistically as well as recovery-wise?

Final thought:  Make sure you get your questions answered. If you are having difficulty understanding what a consulting doctor is discussing during a Consultation, ask her to clarify. Fortunately, a typical Summus Expert Consultation lasts 45-60 minutes, with plenty of time for in-depth learning on a health concern.

Sources: 1) Medscape Physician Compensation Report, 2016. 2) Orca Health. 3) Kyruus, 2014.

 

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