Welcome and thank you for choosing our office for your medical care. Our doctors are specialists in the area of intestinal and liver diseases and are certified in both Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine. We maintain staff privileges at all local hospitals and see office patients in both Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez. In order to provide the best possible services to our patients, we have developed the following office policies.
Appointments can be made by calling 682-3585 between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM. In order to improve efficiency and avoid unnecessary visits and expense, new patient appointments are generally made only on referral from another physician. Appointments for consultation usually last from one-half to one hour and follow-up visits last around 15 minutes. If more time is needed with the doctors, please schedule this in advance. New patient consultation appointments are generally made on weekday afternoons, but other times are available on an emergency basis. If you believe your problem is emergent, please let the scheduler know. Home visits are not made. In general, we see patients in consultation prior to performing procedures except for routine screening sigmoidoscopy.
Because appointment times are limited, please notify the office of cancellations at least 24 hours in advance, allowing others to be seen in a more timely manner. Medical emergencies occur without warning in our practice and must take precedence over routine appointments. Emergencies may result in delays or in the need to reschedule appointments. We will make every effort to keep patients informed in advance of any changes and ask your understanding if unavoidable delays occur.
Our office personnel can best handle routine telephone inquiries weekdays from 8:30 AM to 11:00 AM. Our staff has been trained to answer most routine questions. If a question needs to be addressed by the doctor, a message will be taken by the receptionist and later discussed with the physician. Our staff will call with a return message as soon as time allows. Problems that the office personnel cannot handle will be discussed in a return call by the doctor AFTER office hours on the same day if possible. Emergencies and other demands may limit the doctor's ability to make return calls. Non-emergent calls during off hours may be left on our electronic mail service. Complex problems are best handled with an office visit.
A doctor is available 24 hours a day for emergencies. If you need emergency care, call the office number: 682-3585. Leave a message, including your telephone number, on the electronic system. The doctor on call may or may not be your personal physician. He will be paged via the mail system immediately. If there is not a response within a reasonable length of time, the doctor is probably in the middle of a procedure. If a true emergency exists, report to the nearest emergency room. If a question regarding an upcoming procedure or visit exists, please call again and the doctor will get back to you as soon as possible.
Prescription refills are made only during regular office hours and require, by law, a recent office visit or hospital visit. Some insurance plans require that medications be handled by the primary care physician. Please try to contact the office with refill requests between 8:30 and 11:00 AM to allow time for review of your medical record. It is helpful if a refill request is made several days prior to the time that your medication supply runs out.
Co-payments and other office charges are payable at the time of service. Our doctors are participating physicians in both the Medicare and Medi-cal programs. Medicare claim forms will be submitted electronically by our billing department. Most claim forms for contracted insurance plans will also be automatically submitted, but other insurance claims must be submitted by the patient. If you are not sure whether you must submit your own claims, please check with your insurance company. Nearly all insurance plans require the subscriber to sign a billing and medical information release; we have incorporated such a release in our new patient registration form.
When applicable, statements are mailed monthly. Due to administrative costs, a 1.5% service charge may be added for each billing cycle in which there is an outstanding balance more than three months overdue. Please notify the bookkeeper if a hardship exists so that alternative payment arrangements can be discussed. After appropriate notification, unpaid charges may be submitted to our collection agency.
Many insurance plans require prior authorization for medical care including consultations and office visits. Although every reasonable attempt will be made to comply with terms of your plan, each individual subscriber remains responsible for informing our scheduling desk and bookkeeper of their insurance requirements. Please provide our office with your insurance card so that a copy can be made for your chart. If your insurance changes, it is your responsibility to notify our office.