It’s only taken me 20 years, but I’ve finally figured out how to ask for help from medical folks in a way that not only lets me sound halfway intelligent, but also helps them to help me.
I had a very positive and productive interaction with an individual at a hospital the other day. I had undergone some testing a few months back that came up with inconclusive results that didn’t help explain some weirdness I’ve been experiencing most of my life. So, I need to get some more testing, but I’m not sure if my insurance will cover it. So, I had to contact this hospital to find out what billing codes they use and then call back the insurance company with the info. I didn’t have high hopes of getting very far — most of my interactions with hospitals have been tremendously frustrating for me.
But this time was different. There was no fussing. There was no confused back-and-forth. There were only questions and answers — the right questions, too — and positive results. It was so positive and productive, it left me a little speechless. This is a new experience for me — usually, I flounder and flail and can’t figure out what to say to medical folks, and then they get mad at me for not making their jobs harder. But the other day, I managed to conduct a level-headed, objective, intelligent, mature interaction with someone who actually helped me.
The things I did were so basic, so simple, I feel a little stupid talking about them. But not everyone knows how to do this — including me, for the past 20 years. Here’s what I did:
- I identified myself with my name
- I identified who my doctor is
- I gave a brief overview my background — I had some tests, and I need to have more.
- I identified the issue to solve — I have to figure out if my insurance will cover these tests.
- I identified where I was having trouble solving this issue — my insurance company needs certain billing codes for this test
- I identified what I needed to solve my problem — could they tell me what the billing codes were?
- If they could help me, what were those codes?
- If not, did they know who could tell them — and yes, I would hold.
- I got the details from them and wrote them down
- I repeated the details back to them for confirmation
- I got their name and their telephone number
- I repeated once more what they had told me and identified my next steps
- I thanked them for their help and wished them a good day.
It sounds so simple… but until the other day, I had rarely managed to conduct any kind of conversation in this systematic a manner, and it always went poorly. I got turned around and angry, and the people I was talking to always got a bit beaten up in the process.
But the other day, that didn’t happen.
Now I know how to do this.