August 30, 2023 Breakfast Meeting Notes

August 30, 2023 Breakfast Meeting Notes


Guest: Glenda Toomey


Tony began with NH trivia. Today’s topic was Rotary trivia. 


The card game was won by Russ. Russ also won the chance to draw for the ace of spades, but he was unsuccessful. The game goes on.


Our speaker:  Our own Dr. Jennifer Bentwood spoke on making the most of your primary care visit. She is a primary care doctor who also does obstetrics at Speare Hospital two days a week. She shared things that she would like patients to know about their primary care visits, as well as what urgent care and emergency room care are for.


  1. Medicare provides a free preventive health visit annually in what is called the Medicare Annual Wellness  Exam. The physician will review your health status, reviews medication, all of the doctors you see, screen for cancer, and go over basics such as whether you have an advanced directive. He or she will also review all of your chronic conditions. The appointment is only 30 minutes long, so it is important that you plan ahead to make efficient use of your appointment time. This is NOT the time to come in with a long handwritten list of all of the problems you have had in the last year.  Note that an annual exam in a patient with no complaints seldom turns up a problem. You should also be aware that if you bring up a problem at your annual Medicare visit, your doctor will need to charge you for the exam.


  1. If you have an acute issue, you need to make a separate appointment. There is not enough time in the annual exam to go over problems. Furthermore, there is no need to wait until the annual exam to see your doctor for a problem…if you wait, the problem may be much more advanced. 


  1. Be open and honest. Lead with your biggest problem/concern…don’t wait until you are walking out of the room to bring it up.


  1. Know your own medical history. Problems may or may not be in the doctor’s records, especially if you see multiple physicians, but the doctor does NOT have time to look through hundreds of pages of medical notes right then and there. Be prepared to remind the doctor about your own historical issues.


  1. Understand your own insurance coverage. Your doctor doesn’t know what each and every insurance company and policy will cover. If your doctor recommends a procedure or test, as him or her to print out the code for it, so that you can check with your insurance company yourself.


  1. Bring all of your medications to your appointment. Know what drugs you are on and what you are taking them for. If you see a specialist, ask him or her to print out an exam summary for to take to your primary care person.


  1. Patients often don’t understand why they can’t just call and talk to their doctor. The reason is that doctors are busy every minute of the day. Dr Bentwood has 1000 patients for working 2 days a week (she would have 2000 patients if she worked 4 days a week).  She does not have lunch or bathroom breaks, and she is up until midnight every night working on paperwork. A person calling to get an appointment with her as a new patient will be booked 18 months out, though an established patient is usually seen within a week. The reason why doctors are so busy all comes down to money; physician’s offices are expensive to staff and run and the only way that the doctor can make more money to pay for these costs is to see more patients. Support staff is often underpaid, which means it’s harder for doctors to hire the numbers of people they need to in order to practice efficiently. Furthermore, insurance companies are reluctant to cover costs, as actually providing medical care cuts into their profits. Be aware that many claims are rejected the first time; don’t be afraid to appeal. 


  1. Patients should remember that they have the option to make appointments with their primary care doctor, the urgent care clinic, or the emergency room.  Make a rational decision about which provider you should see for any given problem. For things that should be seen today or tomorrow but that are not life-threatening, such as an ear infection, minor laceration, etc., you may be able to see a nurse practitioner or physician’s  assistant at your primary care office, rather than your regular doctor. Urgent care is also an excellent option for this sort of problem. You should save the emergency room visits for things that are potentially life threatening (for example, chest pain in an elderly patient with a history of heart disease). Unfortunately, emergency rooms are also overburdened, and if people go there with non-emergencies like chronic back pain, everyone will have to wait that much longer to be treated.
Respectfully submitted,
Lora Miller, secretary