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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Internal Medicine

FAQ

Q: What is Internal Medicine?

A: Many internists enter into practice following the completion of their internal medicine training. These physicians practice “general internal medicine” and are commonly referred to as “general internists.” General internists are equipped to handle the broad and comprehensive spectrum of illnesses that affect adults and are recognized as experts in the diagnosis, in treatment of chronic illness, and in health promotion and disease prevention—they are not limited to one type of medical problem or organ system. General internists are equipped to deal with whatever problem a patient brings—no matter how common or rare, or how simple or complex. They are specially trained to solve puzzling diagnostic problems and can handle severe chronic illnesses and situations where several different illnesses may strike at the same time.

General internists may practice in a variety of settings. Their training uniquely qualifies them to practice primary care and follow patients over the duration of their adult lives and establish long and rewarding personal relationships with their patients. Although internists may act as primary care physicians, they are not "general practitioners," or "family physicians," whose training is not solely concentrated on adults and may include pediatrics, obstetrics, and surgery. Some general internists may focus their practice on caring for patients in the hospital setting, and may be referred to as “hospitalists;” the majority of hospitalists in the US are general internists. Still, other general internists will combine these facets of care and provide both outpatient and inpatient care.

Q: What is the difference between MD and DO?

A: The simple answer is that both an MD (Doctor of Medicine) and a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) are doctors licensed to practice in the United States. They are similarly educated and certified, but there are differences in their training and philosophy of patient care. As part of their medical education, DOs receive additional musculoskeletal training known as osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) – between 300 and 500 hours – on the skeletal system and the interactions of the body with diseases. The AOA describes OMT as a hands-on healing method often used to treat muscle pain that can help patients with conditions such as asthma, sinus disorders, and migraines.

 

Q: What is an EMR?

A: An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is a digital version of a paper chart that contains patient health information including medical and surgical history, medications and allergies, immunization status, laboratory test results, radiology images, and vitals. An EMR allows providers to send and receive orders, reports, and results, report public health outbreaks, ePrescribe, easily track data over time, identify patients who are due for preventive visits and screenings, monitor how patients measure up to certain parameters, such as vaccinations and blood pressure readings, and improve overall quality of care in a practice. The digital formatting of an EMR also allows a patient’s health record to move with them—to other health care providers, specialists, hospitals, and nursing homes, and even across states. An interface between Union General Hospital and our EMR will allow our providers to access health information about her patients from the hospital and allow for better continuity of care. Examples include ER visit notes, radiology, labs, & mammograms. More information about our EMR can be found at http://www.athenahealth.com/

Q: What is a Patient Portal?

A: A Patient Portal is a secure online website that gives patients convenient 24-hour access to personal health information from anywhere with an Internet connection. Using a secure username and password, patients can view health information such as your medication lists, allergies, medical & surgical history, immunizations, and lab results. You can also make payments, securely message your provider, put in a request for a medication refill, pay your bill, or schedule an appointment. You may also choose to give access to a loved one so that they may also access this information to assist you with your care or in times of emergency.

Q: What is an HIE?

A: An Electronic health information exchange (HIE) allows doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other health care providers and patients to appropriately access and securely share a patient’s vital medical information electronically—improving the speed, quality, safety and cost of patient care. Our office submits data to the GaHIN, which is a nonprofit health information exchange (HIE) that facilitates the use and secure exchange of patient health information so providers have the information they need at the point of care.

Q: What is the medication refill policy?

A: Need a Refill? Plan Ahead!

Our general policy is for you to bring all prescription bottles with you to every appointment. At that time, our nursing staff will check your pill bottles and determine what refills are needed. These will be filled at your patient visit.

 

While we understand that the above scenario is ideal, there are times where you may require refills between visits and we would like to provide you with prescription refills as quickly as possible. As you can imagine, we receive many calls each day from patients and pharmacies about refills. While we try to handle calls as soon as we receive them, our primary responsibility is to ensure patients scheduled for an appointment are seen in a timely manner.

 

We request that you allow 1-3 business days to process your information. All refill requests are handled during regular working hours of 8 AM-5 PM, Monday through Thursday. Refills cannot be processed on weekends or holidays. In hopes of streamlining the refill process, we are implementing the following guidelines:

  1. Our office prefers that you send a message through the patient portal for all refills.
  2. If you use a local pharmacy, you may also begin the refill process at least four business days before your medications run out. Depending on the medications, most patients should call the pharmacy for the refill. The pharmacy will forward the necessary information to us. If you call the office, please leave a message with the medical assistant for your specific provider.
  3. If you use a mail order company, please contact us at least 14 days before your medication runs out. Submissions of request are the same as above.
  4. Refills can only be authorized on medications prescribed by the providers in our office. We will not refill medications prescribed by other physicians. If these medications are the ones that you would like to take over our office’s prescription, you will need to discuss this with your provider at a scheduled visit.
  5. If you have not seen your provider in six months or more, a follow-up visit will often be needed to verify medications needs. Our office will not refill a prescription if you have not been seen in the last year.
  6. Please plan ahead and schedule your follow up appointments so you may avoid scenarios in which you may run short of your medications.

Q: Do you have a controlled substance policy?

A. While we are happy to provide you with care for your medical problems, we do not prescribe controlled substances including narcotics or benzodiazepines. It will be the responsibility of the patient or their family to locate a chronic pain specialist or psychiatrist to prescribe these medications. We will provide you with a list of providers if available to us. Our office will not be responsible for prescribing these medications during your transition to a specialist or if you run out of these medications or are unable to get in touch with your specialist. If you are on any of these medications, prior to making a new patient appointment with our office, we suggest that you make an appointment with pain management for narcotic guidance and refills and with psychiatry for guidance and or refills on benzodiazepines.

Q: What if I am running late or will not be able to make my appointment?

A: Our office understands that things do come up where you may have to reschedule your appointment. We ask that you call us as soon as you are aware that you will not make it or that you may be late for your appointment. Our office staff will be happy to reschedule your appointment for you. For your reference, our office policy is that we will not see anyone who is over 15 minutes late for their appointment. This is to ensure that our office runs on time and each of our patients is given the level of attention and care that they deserve.