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Outpatient Services

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Finding the Right Provider

It is important to check with your HMO, PPO, or health insurance provider to determine what outpatient services are covered. Your particular health plan coverage may limit your choice of services.

Choosing a quality outpatient center before you have a medical procedure is the best way to make sure that you'll receive excellent care. Friends and family who have used outpatient services may tell you about their personal experiences. Often your doctor will know about the quality of outpatient services in your area. You may want to start your search by talking with your doctor about your options. Next, find out which outpatient services are covered by your insurance company. The following questions may help you find the outpatient service center that best fits your needs:

  • Does the facility accept your health insurance, HMO, or PPO coverage? Does your insurance cover any or all of the costs?
  • Is the outpatient service center conveniently located or within a reasonable distance of your home or work?
  • Is more than one facility in your area qualified to provide the service you need?
  • Will the facility communicate well with your doctor and provide the information you need in a timely manner? Can your doctor verify the accuracy of any tests you had?
  • Is the outpatient service center accredited by a national medical board or other recognized agency? You can find out by calling your state medical board or the Joint Commission. For more information, see the Quality of Outpatient Services section of this topic.
  • Is the facility clean, organized, comfortable, and private? You'll need to visit the facility to find out. You may want to ask the facility or others who have used the facility if the recovery room is well-staffed. Is there a waiting room for your family?
  • Is information readily available to you? Will you receive instructions before, during, and after a procedure or test?
  • Are brochures or literature available that explain the outpatient center's services and fees? Does the facility provide information on financial assistance?
  • Do you have other health conditions that should be considered? Can the facility accommodate treating your other conditions if needed? Does your doctor think there is a risk that you may need specialized attention or emergency services during the procedure?
  • Can you get all the care you need at the facility? Will the center provide all the medicines or other treatment needed? Will you have to go somewhere else for follow-up care?
  • What kind of experience does the staff have? How long has the outpatient service center been operating? What are the specialties of the doctors providing the care? Are they board-certified in their specialty areas?

You may have more questions based on your own health issues and the type of procedure or test you need. Ask questions, listen to the recommendation of your doctor and those you trust, and visit the facility to get the information you need to make the best decision for your health care.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 27, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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