The Hassle of Making Medical Appointments


When you are unwell the last thing you want to deal with is the frustration of trying to get a timely doctor's appointment. However, whether it's an appointment with a family doctor for a sore throat or with a specialist for a chronic medical condition, you may find that the process does not run as smoothly as you would like.

In Israel, appointments with kupat doctors are made via the kupah website, the kupah app or their 24-hour phone service (moked).One major advantage of using the app or the website is that you will see a listing of all doctors and available appointments in the location you choose rather than relying on the kupah rep to give you this information over the phone.But a minimum level of proficiency in Hebrew is necessary to navigate the kupah websites.

In general, family doctors offer many appointments throughout the week, mostly separated into morning shifts and afternoon shifts. But if your throat hurts today you may not want to wait for the next available appointment tomorrow afternoon and then wait until the morning after that for a throat culture at the lab. And once you start seeing a specific doctor in a rivon (the year is split into 4 quarterly periods called riv'onim) then you may not switch doctors until the next rivon. In this case, the kupot will allow you the option of going to see someone other than your official family doctor, provided that the appointment with the second doctor is not at a time when your official doctor sees patients. This way you can make an appointment with any family doctor for the same day and get your lab results a whole day earlier.

The real hassle can occur when trying to make an appointment with a specialist.If you live outside of one of the major metropolitan centers you may find that certain specialists see patients only one day every few weeks and that the first available appointment is months away. Being flexible in terms of location will allow you to find an appointment much quicker than if you insist on seeing a doctor in your area. The same doctor who has an appointment available near you in two months may have one available in another city within two weeks!It is worth traveling to see this doctor earlier and then making subsequent appointments in advance at his/her clinic closest to your home.

Even if you are seeing a specialist at a clinic near you, if you will need periodic appointments then the best way to ensure convenient appointments is to arrange the next one immediately upon leaving the office. The receptionist may be able to help you with this or you can take care of it as soon as you get home. Even if you are unsure that you will need the appointment, make it and you can always cancel it when it becomes clear that it is unnecessary. The clinic receptionists can also be a big help when you need to see your doctor urgently and there are no appointments available. Depending on the clinic policy, she may be able to fit you in or put you on a waiting list just in case someone cancels.

If you have a serious issue that needs to be urgently dealt with then your family doctor can alert the kupah and a case manager will be assigned to search for an immediate appointment with a kupah specialist. In this case, you will not have much choice as to which doctor you see or where, but you will be assured of a quick appointment, hopefully within an hour's drive.

If you are searching for a specialist on your own then you must be aware that many doctors have sub-specialties and they will not treat all issues related to their specialty. For instance, a doctor may only specialize in the pediatric division of the specialty. Or, as often happens, an orthopedist who specializes in shoulder issues will not treat knee issues, and even if he/she does, it may not be the best address for your problem. Another common area of sub-specialty is endocrinology and diabetes. You don't want to show up for an appointment that you made a month ago to be told that this is a Diabetes clinic and your thyroid problem cannot be treated by this endocrinologist. Sub-specialties are usually listed under the doctor's name in the kupah web site or app. Alternatively, you can always call your kupah's 24-hour phone service and ask which doctors treat your specific condition, but you might be sent around to a few phone representatives until you find one who speaks English.

Look for our next segment on appointments with specialists who are not affiliated with a specific kupah and appointments for medical tests.In the meantime, remember that being flexible and willing to travel may prevent useless frustration and get you the help you need when you need it.

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