A patient of ours recently came to us with an acute ankle injury. After a standard examination of the ankle and a lengthy discussion regarding the patient’s possible diagnosis, we explained to the patient that imaging would be necessary for a diagnosis. Our patient had lots of questions. What type of imaging will I need? Where will I go? Will my insurance cover that? Do I need a referral? Should I go to an urgent care? The Emergency Room?
The healthcare system in America is very complex and complicated. Throw in medical insurance or lack thereof and your average patient is just downright confused about how to get care and how to pay for it. Part of what we take pride in at Rocket Healthcare is a piece we like to call Healthcare Navigation. What exactly is healthcare navigation? In the space of our direct primary care, (a clinical space), navigating patients may mean:
- Assisting patients in finding the right treatment and the order thereof (i.e., screening, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up check-up)
- Educating patients about their illnesses or diagnosis so they can make sound decisions regarding their health (autonomy)
- Explaining to them their insurances coverages (if they have them) or navigating them to cash pay facilities for different services
- Helping patients come to terms with their illnesses and offering emotional support (empathetic listening) and resources throughout treatment
- Helping patients find, communicate, and voice out their concerns with their healthcare providers
As for our patient with the ankle injury, we were able to navigate them to a partnering imaging facility that would take their insurance. With an official diagnosis, we also helped to direct the patient to two trusted physical therapists who would be able to move forward with treatment for the patient. We were also able to see which therapist took insurance and which therapist worked on a cash basis only. With each PT facility having completely different environments and approaches to treatment, we also were able to describe the differences between the two to help the patient and their family find the right fit for them.
Healthcare navigation doesn’t stop with a diagnosis. As a matter of fact, that’s only the starting point. We want to help our patients know what their options are. Education, direction and explaining how a patient can pay for treatment is also key. Not everyone has medical insurance coverage. We work very hard to find cash pricing for our patients without insurance for everything from bloodwork to MRIs. A good primary care office may give you a few referrals. A great primary care office will give you the tools to help you make the best choices for yourself and your health.