Frequently asked questions
Q: Why does it take so long to get a new patient appointment?
A: Unlike many other endocrinologists, we do NOT employ "mid-level providers" (Nurse practitioners or physician assistants). You will always be seen by a board certified physician at each visit. Therefore it may take more time to get to see the doctor on the first visit.
Q: Why do I need to complete a New Patient Packet prior to scheduling an appointment?
A: There are numerous benefits to a patient if the new patient packet is completed prior to scheduling an appointment. 1) You will have more time with the doctor at the time of your visit instead of that time being spent on filling out all the paperwork your insurance requires 2) We can verify your insurance coverage prior to your visit so you know what the charges could be 3) We can set up your patient portal and email reminders ahead of the visit. 4) In some cases the doctors can review your case and possibly expedite an appointment, especially if detailed information is given and you request a New Patient Packet review. With all the patient-benefits in mind, we have made it mandatory for the New Patient Packet to be completed prior to scheduling an appointment.
Q: Can I switch doctors within the practice?
A: No doctor-switching is allowed as each physician manages their own patients independently. Note all of our physicians operate cohesively as a group and therefore they provide similar evidenced-base care and expertise. You must stay with the physician with whom you met on the first visit. If you have a strong preference for a particular doctor for your initial visit, you will need to wait to see them when they are available. See below for how to request to see the physician for a sooner appointment. You will be rescheduled at the time of arrival if you do not choose the physician you have been seeing regularly.
Q Can I get a sooner appointment? When is the next available appointment?
A: There are sooner appointments. If you are an Established patient, it is best practice to make your next appointment before you leave the office. Established patients who need a sooner appointment should use the patient portal to send a message requesting why a sooner-than-already scheduled appointment is needed. We can place patients on an automated SMS wait list system
New patients can get a sooner appointment if their new patient packet and old records are sent ahead of time. Based on the details you provide in the New Patient Packet, the doctors in the group determine if a sooner appointment is needed. The next available appointment for you is solely based on the details you provide in the packet. If another doctor has referred you, please request that they either page one of our endocrinologists directly or fax a letter to our endocrinologists detailing why you should be seen sooner than your scheduled appointment. The wait time to see our physicians can vary between one week to 6+ months. The best ways to see the availability of appointments is via www.houstonendocrine.com/healow after you have completed your new patient packet. If you think your case requires a sooner appointment please send a portal message.
Q Do you accept my insurance ?
A: BILLING QUESTIONS? We probably do accept your insurance as we are in-network with many plans and are constantly adding more. Please visit this page to see the insurances with which we partner . Please ask
Q How do patients communicate with the office? Why do my phone calls not get returned as quickly as electronic messaging?
A: Click Here for our Free Healow App for all Scheduling, Use Office Code DGCHBA. By patient demand, we are a fully electronic practice that relies exclusively on the Healow App and patient portal system to interact with our patients. These systems allow for 100% accountability and documentation of all concerns. Also we strongly recommend use of the Patient Portal 24 hours per day for all medical questions as these messages are received by our system within 24 hours and answered within 2-3 business days usually.
Phone call conversations are not documented well and can lead to miscommunication and medical errors. Patient portal messaging and SMS is well documented in the best interests of the patient. For Emergencies of any kind please contact 911 or go to an emergency room or contact your primary care doctor. Interpretation of results of testing will be relayed to you by your physician via televisit, office visit, or patient portal. Other communication from the office is via patient portal and it is a patient's responsibility to check those portal messages. Otherwise the only other way to have the results interpreted for you will be at a follow up visit with the doctor.
Q Can the endocrinologists be my primary care physician?
A: No. As specialists, our doctors are trained to diagnose and treat specific endocrine disorders. They are not primary care physicians. You will still need your primary care physician for all other health issues which are outside of the scope of endocrinology. All patients are required to have a primary care doctor for all non-endocrine issues.
Q Do I need a referral to be seen at the Houston Thyroid and Endocrine?
A: This depends on your insurance. Here are a list of insurances we accept. Most of the people we see have been referred by their primary care physician. Some people who have PPO insurance are self referred. In general we prefer that you have a primary care physician to whom we can forward our recommendations. If you have an HMO, then a referral is required prior to scheduling an appointment. Please have your insurance card in hand when you call to make an appointment.
Q Can I reach the doctors after regular business hours?
A: The physicians are available via the page operator, but they ask that after hours calls are kept to a minimum, reserving these for urgent matters, which cannot be left until the morning. In addition it may not always be possible for our doctor to return your call within a few hours. If you are calling for an emergency, you are advised to call 911. Patient portal is the best way to reach physicians for non-emergent issues.
Q: How do I request a prescription refill?
A: If you are an active patient in our clinic and the prescription was one originally written by one of our doctors , we will be happy to refill it. Refer to the refill information sheet. If you have not been seen in the clinic for a long period of time we may require that you be seen first before we agree to fill the prescription. The easiest way to achieve this is to log into your patient portal and request a refill. The best way is to request your pharmacy to contact us electronically with a refill request. As some medications require prior authorization from your insurance company, we always recommend that you keep a check on when you will be in need of a refill and give us at least 2 weeks to avoid any delay in your getting your medications. Don't wait until your medications are finished to refill. We do not refill medications on weekends.
Q: What should bring to my appointment?
A: In addition to your current insurance card, we ask that you bring the following:
Please bring a list of current medications including dosages and instructions on how you take them. It is often best to bring along the actual medications for us to go through.
We have a New Patient Packet, which we have you fill in before you are seen.
Please have your primary care physician who is referring you, fax us your records, including any relevant lab work and scans, before your appointment.
If a your insurance requires a copay, then your insurance requires you pay this prior to being seen by your physician. Bring a form of payment: Cash, check, or credit card. You will be asked to reschedule if you do not have this payment.
A valid current insurance card. We do confirm your insurance coverage prior to your appointment to determine what is left to collect on your deductible, co-insurance, etc.
All patients: All current medication bottles, recent blood work and relevant testing, a current insurance card, detailed contact information for your pharmacy of choice.
Referred patients: We do not know why you are coming unless you bring records from your referring doctor explaining why you are coming to us. You must bring those records with you to your first visit. We will not obtain those records for you.
Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism: any previous thyroid scan and uptake, recent thyroid blood testing, and any thyroid ultrasound report.
Thyroid Nodules: Previous thyroid ultrasound report if available, any recent thyroid testing (TSH)
Thyroid Cancer: Thyroid FNA biopsy cytopathology report, final surgical pathology reports, the surgery operative report, all radioactive iodine treatment reports, whole body scan reports, all thyroglobulin blood test results, any thyroid ultrasound reports.
Pituitary Diseases: The most recent MRI-pituitary reports and the one from prior to any pituitary surgery, any pituitary labs and ACTH stimulation testing, surgical operative reports, final surgical pathology reports, radiation therapy notes, visual field examination notes from your ophthalmologist, and any endocrinologists' notes.
Adrenal Disease: The most recent CT or MRI of adrenal glands and recent blood work.
Diabetes Mellitus: If taking insulin you must bring your glucometer for download. Any recent hemoglobinA1c and kidney testing. Written blood glucose values are not acceptable.
Q How do log into my patient portal?
A: Click www.houstonendocrine.com/patientportal. At your first visit you should ask us for your patient portal password. If you forgot your password, you may request it electronically at anytime or call the office during regular business hours to have it reset. Your username is the email you provided to us on your first visit. Refer here for more answers about patient portal.
Q Is wireless (WiFi) access available?
A: Yes, you may connect your wireless device to our guest-network named "Endocrine-Patient" and ask our staff for the password. There is no charge.