We thank you for choosing us for your healthcare needs and look forward to being a part of your medical care. In order for our office to work as efficiently as possible for you, there are some guidelines that are necessary to ensure your best interest. We believe that a clear definition of our patient policies will allow both you and the medical providers to concentrate on the issue at hand: regaining and maintaining your health. You are asked to please review and abide by the policies below.
Our physicians make every effort to provide you with the best care possible. In order to do this we do not regularly provide consultations or medical treatment over the telephone. Our clinical practice guidelines, State Board of Medicine, malpractice insurance carrier, and/or your health insurance plan require that a healthcare professional sees you in the office under each of the following conditions:
Any new symptom or medical condition not previously treated at Vital Life Wellness Center
• Any new occurrence/recurrence of a condition that has been previously treated at Vital Life Wellness Center
• Any request for a medication not previously prescribed by a medical provider at Vital Life Wellness Center
• Any request for a diagnostic study or a blood test
• Review of all abnormal lab test results that the provider believes require discussion or treatment
• Patients taking prescription medications who have not had a Wellness Exam visit within one year
• Patients over 50 years of age who have not had a Wellness Exam visit within one year
• Patients on diabetes or hypertension medications who have not had an office visit in the past six months and/or a Wellness Exam visit within the past year
• If at any time you feel there is a matter that needs to be discussed directly with your physician, please schedule an appointment to do so.
Vital Life Policies and Procedures
Office hours are from 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM Monday through Friday, unless otherwise stated. Please be aware that each provider’s schedule varies.
We see patients in our office by appointment only. The amount of time you should plan to be in our office depends on the reason you are here. In general, first-time patients and patients who are here for Wellness Exam visits take more time. Please plan accordingly.
We realize that at times it may be difficult to make same day appointments with your physician if an acute illness occurs. If an appointment with your physician is not available on the day you call, an appointment with our Nurse Practitioner can be made. She is a trusted extension of your physician and is usually available for acute visits on the same day. Acute conditions include: upper respiratory infections, viral illnesses, skin rashes, and many other conditions. We have your medical information available to us, so you will be seen and treated in a timely manner.
If you are more than 15 minutes late, you may be asked to reschedule or to wait for the next available work-in time (if any are available). We ask that any changes or cancellations please be made at least 24 hours in advance.
We make every effort to remain on schedule and minimize any inconvenience to you. However, occasionally and for reasons beyond their control, every medical office will encounter delays. Patient, physician, office, and/or other emergencies influence clinic flow and can result in unpredictable waiting times. If a delay does occur, our staff will inform you as soon as possible. Should you would prefer not to wait, we will gladly reschedule your appointment for a more convenient time. If you do choose to wait, feel free to visit our Spa for a cup of coffee or a cold drink.
Medications & Refills
We ask that you please bring ALL medications that you are taking with you to each appointment. This includes over-the-counter medications such as vitamins and aspirin as well as prescription medications. A current list of all medications is sufficient if it contains all of the necessary information (medication name, strength, and quantity).
Medication Prior Authorization Policy
Effective June 15th, 2018 there will be a $15 charge for all prior authorization request to be completed.
Our team will make every effort to submit all Prior Authorizations in a timely manner. Due to increasing demands, please allow 7-10 business days for completion. Please keep in mind majority of insurance companies have up to 72 hours to respond to our request.
Insurance companies require Prior Authorizations on medications that are not in your medication tier. We will receive a request from your pharmacy if your medication is not covered. It is up to your insurance company if the medication will be approved or denied.
If your Prior Authorization is denied, you are responsible for contacting your insurance company to find out what medications are covered in your tier or choose to pay out of pocket.
Prescription refills are considered during office hours only. If you are currently taking a medication and would like to request a refill, it is preferred that you request refills at the time of your office visit; otherwise, please call your pharmacy directly.
Your pharmacy will send an electronic request to our office. If your refill request is approved by the doctor, it will be authorized at your pharmacy within 48-72 hours (of the time that we receive the request from the pharmacy). All refill requests received over the weekend will be handled by the end of business day on Tuesday.
Please pay attention to the number of refills remaining on your prescription(s) and the amount left in the bottle. Typically, being out of refills of chronic medication indicates that you are due for your annual Wellness Exam or follow-up medical visit. If you need to speak with our clinical staff prior to having a medication refilled, please call our office and provide all pertinent information including: your name and date of birth, name of medication, any questions or changes you are requesting, as well as the pharmacy name, address, and phone number.
If our clinical practice guidelines or the physician notes in your medical record indicate that you are due for a Wellness Exam or follow-up visit, you will need to schedule the visit prior to any prescription refills being authorized.
Please see the Controlled Substances Policy regarding refills for medications that require a control number prescription (e.g. Adderall, Vyvanse, Oxycontin, etc).
At the medical professional’s discretion, prescribed medication samples may be distributed to patients when the medication sample is available. The provider may distribute samples if there is a pharmacy delay, if a patient demonstrates a financial need, or if a medication is being evaluated for efficacy. Samples may not always be available, so if there is difficulty in obtaining your prescription we recommend you request an alternative or contact the medication manufacturer as they may have a plan to assist you.
The ability to prescribe narcotics, benzodiazepines, and other controlled substances is a privilege that is granted by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The DEA has stringent laws that govern the prescribing of controlled substances. The physicians at Vital Life Wellness Center take this privilege very seriously. This policy is intended not only to protect this privilege, but to also make certain that Vital Life Wellness Center provides you with safe and appropriate patient care. Please note the following regarding controlled substances:
• If you require narcotics for chronic pain management you will be referred for treatment to a Pain Management or other specialist as needed. Chronic pain management is not a part of our practice, nor is it a service that we offer.
• If controlled substances are prescribed by VLWC, the patient will not seek controlled substances from any other provider. (If you are obtaining treatment elsewhere, it is imperative that you notify ALL of your treating physicians.)
• Controlled substance prescriptions will be filled at one pharmacy or pharmacy chain.
• Controlled substances prescriptions must be requested in a timely manner (48-72 hours per the refill policy).
• If you are requesting to pick-up a prescription for the same day, there will be a $10.00 fee (per prescription).
• Controlled substances will be taken only as prescribed. Any type of abuse of these medications will not be tolerated.
• Controlled substances are not to be shared or sold.
• Lost prescriptions will not be rewritten/refilled.
• Obtaining controlled substances under the pretense of a nonexistent condition or situation is illegal. If it is felt that a patient is not being honest, VLWC will deny any further controlled substance prescriptions. In addition, law enforcement agencies may be notified.
• Violation of, or refusal to obey any of these guidelines may result in controlled substances no longer being prescribed and/or in a patient’s dismissal from the practice.
Depending on the laboratory and or type of test you have performed, it takes anywhere from a few days to 2 weeks for our office to receive results. Laboratory and other test results are received and routed directly to the ordering provider to be reviewed. Our providers review and take action on all urgent results within 24-48 hours of receiving them.
In most cases, you will be scheduled for a follow-up visit with a medical provider to discuss your results. At that time, the provider and you will discuss your condition and treatment plan(s) in addition to reviewing the actual lab results. If you have tests performed and do not have a follow up appointment, please call our office so that we may schedule one for you. It is preferred that you have your labs done at least 2 weeks before your appointment (this applies especially if you are having hormone testing). If there are significantly abnormal results that require immediate action, our clinical staff will contact you directly.
Also, Quest Diagnostics® offers an application that allows you to view your lab results (Gazelle). Again, please be sure to keep your follow up appointment or schedule one if you have any concerns over your results.
Calls For Medical Concerns
Patients are encouraged to schedule an appointment to discuss all medical concerns directly with a medical professional. If you don’t believe your concern warrants a visit to the doctor, established patients of Vital Life Wellness Center may call and speak with our clinical staff with any questions they may have related to their medical care. In the event clinical staff is not available at the time of your call, you are welcome to leave a voice message. Please leave your name and date of birth, give a brief description of why you are calling and leave the best number and time for us to reach you. Our staff will not be able to answer your questions without accessing your medical record and, in most cases, your questions will need to be discussed with one of our physicians before you receive a response.
Every effort is made to respond to your concerns the same day; however, non-urgent calls may be returned the following business day. Due to the time demands on our physicians and other medical providers, our patients do not typically speak directly with the physician by phone. Should you wish to discuss your concerns directly with a physician, we recommend that you schedule an appointment so that they may answer all your questions and provide you with the time and care you deserve.
Emergency and After Hours Calls
If you believe you have a true medical emergency, PLEASE CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY and do not attempt to contact Vital Life Wellness Center.
If you reach our office after hours and your concern is not an emergency, please leave your name and date of birth, give a brief description of why you are calling and leave the best number and time for us to reach you the following business day.
Referrals and Scheduling
Vital Life Wellness Center providers may refer you to a specialist and/or schedule tests and procedures that are done outside of our office. Depending on your insurance plan, our staff may need to obtain an authorization before scheduling your appointment. In many cases, it will be more convenient for you to schedule the consultation or test directly with the office you are referred to. Our clinical staff will help in every way needed to instruct you and answer all your questions concerning the process. They will also be happy to schedule the appointment or test for you, if you or your medical provider prefer.
Letters and forms
There is a $25.00 fee for all letters and forms for which you request our staff to complete. Payment is required at the time you drop off the paperwork. Please allow 14 days for paperwork to be completed. Any requests from attorneys must include authorization from the patient. This fee is dependent on the information being requested and is typically billed directly to the attorney.
Medical Record Request
Medical records are the property of Vital Life Wellness Center. Because we adhere to strict confidentiality regulations (HIPAA), we must receive a written request form with your original signature in order to release or forward your records (unless the request implicates a need for continuity of care). This request must include the patient’s full legal name, date of birth, and the full name, complete address, and phone number of the physician/facility where the information is to be sent. There is no charge to have your medical records sent directly to another physician’s office or medical institution. If you are requesting a copy of your medical records, there is a $25.00 fee for this service. The fee is higher for requests received from insurance carriers and attorneys.
Your privacy is very important to us. For this reason, we currently do not correspond with patients via e-mail. If you have a question or concern that needs to be addressed, please call our office. If you are requesting a printed copy of your test results, these may be sent to you via U.S. Postal Service or accessed via the Gazelle app if performed by Quest Diagnostics®.
Vital Life Wellness Center has contracted with a group of physicians who specialize in “in-patient” medicine to take care of our patients who need to be admitted to a hospital. These “hospitalists” are on staff at the Nix and Baptist Healthcare System hospitals in the San Antonio area and are always available to see Vital Life Wellness Center patients who are referred from our office or by an emergency medicine physician in any hospital Emergency Department they staff. We have found that our patients receive better quality care and service if our physicians focus on office-based care and our hospitalists manage our patients in the hospital. Please check with your insurance plan to determine if these hospitals are approved providers.
Vital Life Wellness Center staff is dedicated to providing quality health care and patient satisfaction. Should you have a concern, we ask that you first try to resolve the matter with the person involved. If there is no satisfactory outcome, you may contact the Director of Clinic Operations. If there is still no resolution, the Chief Operating Officer will explain the grievance process and other options that may be available to you. You also have the right to notify any of the state or federal regulatory agencies governing healthcare organizations.
As a patient of Vital Life Wellness Center, our physicians have a legal and ethical responsibility to provide medical services to you. There are occasionally situations when we will no longer be able to provide you with our services. Our practice reserves the right to end the physician-patient relationship for any reason but will do so only according to our practice guidelines. The steps involved in such a termination will include a determination from the Review Committee, a written notice delivered to the patient by certified mail, a brief explanation of the reason(s) for termination, availability for the patient to continue to receive medical care and services for 30 days following the written notification, suggestions for finding another primary care physician in the area, and an offer to transfer medical records to a newly-designated physician upon receipt of a signed authorization release form.