The First Visit
Just as no two patients are alike, neither are their visits with us. Each visit may deal with a different aspect of a problem and conditions can change over time. We individualize our visits to the needs of the patient and we try to stay on schedule as much as possible.
The two main types of visit are the first assessment and the return visit. The first assessment may take up to a couple of hours, including the different evaluations and the patient teaching session at the end of the visit, when appropriate. The return visit is a more compact encounter, usually lasting about twenty minutes to a half-hour.
The First Assessment
A typical first visit deals with the patient's general health and how it is affected by their neurological and headache problems... We are concerned with the whole patient. Because general health as well as neurological health, mood and sleep issues are critical to your care, we require our patients to log in and give us a complete history, using our own proprietary expert system.
Upon arrival to our clinic, the patient is first interviewed by the RN to verify and clarify the large amount of information gathered from your online general health profile. Next, the patient sees Dr. Messina who reviews and revises the intake information and continues the discussion of the patient's problem. He will review all available medical records, patient diaries, tests, etc. and perform a detailed neurological examination. He will discuss the diagnosis with the patient and significant other and make treatment recommendations. The treatment plan is then explained to the patient in a personalized teaching session with the clinical nurse. A note describing the findings and treatment plan is then sent to the patient's referring physician, if desired.
The receptionist can call for missing records or test results. The nurse looks through the patient's medication list or pharmacy printout or look at each medication bottle the patient has brought in and enter the medication and doses into the computer. All pertinent test data is entered into our database. Dr. Messina then reviews the information already gathered and discusses your symptoms and how they affect you. He will then review all test data and perform a detailed neurological examination. He will discuss his findings with you and make recommendations for testing and treatment. All of this information becomes part of the electronic medical record.
Before a patient leaves our clinic, they spend time with the RN to go over the plan and answer any questions you may have.
We generally will send a copy of our findings to the other physicians designated by the patient and the prescriptions and test requests are printed out. A multiple page instruction sheet is automatically printed out and used in the patient teaching phase of the visit.
The Return Visit
When a patient returns to our clinic (or sees us through a telemedicine visit), the nurse will obtain information describing any problems that arose since the last encounter and ask detailed questions about the symptoms, toleration and effectiveness of the treatment and any pertinent health issues that may have developed. Dr. Messina then will review test results, reexamine when appropriate and make changes in the treatment plan. The Nurse Practitioner will similarly evaluate and manage the patients within our practice parameters.
We ask our patients to describe their progress, experience with our medications and how often each medication is used. We need to know about any other health problems that may have come up in the meantime. Please bring the names of any new medications or the actual bottles if new medications have been prescribed by your other physicians since the last visit.
We will then review your response and make further adjustments to the treatment plan. Remember, it sometimes takes a few tries to get a medication that is effective and well tolerated, so please be patient with us during this process. At the end of the encounter, we will again generate a detailed written plan and the nurse will go over it with you.
After all encounters, the patient is given printed instructions with medication information, test descriptions, etc. A registered nurse is available during office hours to handle all patient phone calls, and all these are discussed with the neurologist and communicated back to the patient.
Our office visits are sometimes very much like a meeting. Certainly, we examine the patient when appropriate and write prescriptions but our visits are more than that. They are often a meeting between the patient and family members, the nurse practitioner or the RN and the neurologist. We believe that the treatment recommendations need to be acceptable to all parties or the plan will not be successful, so we discuss it on a regular basis during scheduled visits.