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Choosing Your Practice

HOW TO CHOOSE A QUALITY GENERAL PRACTICE

QUESTIONS TO ASK TO MEASURE QUALITY

  • Are the doctor's specialist general practitioners? (Do they have a FRACGP after their MBBS?)
  • Do the doctor's participate in continuing education? Are they vocationally registered? A quick test is to check the charge out Medicare rebate rate for a standard consultation item 23 = $37.05 = VR. (To retain VR status a doctor must be involved in continuing education)
  • Is the practice computerised? Advantages include no lost files; all your information is at the doctor's fingertips, complete legibility.
  • Does the practice have a recall system?
  • Is the practice time conscious? (to minimise waiting times)
  • Does the practice have trained nursing sisters to assist doctors and patients?
  • Does the practice have the latest up to date medical equipment and facilities?
  • Does the practice have after hours care arrangements in place for you?
  • Has the practice been quality accredited? (Look for logo in front window.)

HOW CAN I ENSURE I RECEIVE THE BEST CARE AVAILABLE?

There are a number of things that need to occur to ensure this. First be sure you are choosing a quality general practice with quality doctors by going through the above questions and hopefully answering yes to all of them.

Choose a doctor and stick with them to follow through with your health problems. Continuity of care is very important. Valuable information may be lost and important follow up forgotten when swapping and changing doctors frequently

Arrive on time for your appointment and be sure you book enough time for the problem you have come for or you artificially create a "rushed" appointment, which is unsatisfactory to both patient and doctor.

Come to the consultation well prepared and able to give a clear history of your problem, how long you have had your symptoms, what makes them better and worse and any other associated symptoms. Write it down in chronological order if it is a long and complex history. Express any fears or concerns or needs you have so doctors can address them directly and reassure you. Doctors cannot read minds any better than you can!

Be honest and forthright with the doctor, they need an accurate account to make a correct diagnosis. Making a diagnosis is like putting a jigsaw together. If there are pieces of information missing, the big picture (i.e. the diagnosis) may be more difficult to make.

If there is anything you don't understand, ask questions until you do. Doctors are happy to explain to the level of knowledge you personally need but they won't know what you need unless you tell them.

Bring a diary and write down instructions given to you. Follow the instructions and inform the doctor if for any reason you can't follow through as failure to follow through may have adverse outcomes for you. Doctors work on the premise that if they have advised you to do something you will do it. If you don't intend to do it or will delay doing it you need to tell them so they can advise you of any adverse consequences possible if you delay.

Take medication as prescribed. Do tests as requested. Return for them as advised. See specialists as advised. Report back immediately if the medication has side effects or you are not getting better

Diagnosis is a step by step process; not all diagnosis can be made in one visit. Medicare will only allow a stepwise level of testing, i.e. when the first set of tests for the most likely cause come back negative, then testing for the next round is permitted at next visit if symptoms are continuing. This system has been instituted to ensure careful use of our over stretched health resources. You need to understand this diagnostic process to ensure you continue to return until your health problem is resolved to completion.

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