WHAT TO EXPECT DURING AN INITIAL EVALUATION
Your first visit at South Coast Psychiatry will consist of an initial evaluation with one of our doctors or therapists, which usually lasts 60-90 minutes, depending on your specific presentation. Please be aware that, at South Coast Psychiatry, in order to offer the highest quality care possible, all of our clinicians prefer and recommend 90 minute initial evaluations, to be able to conduct comprehensive, personalized biopsychosocial evaluations and treatment plans; however, we understand that finances and time limitations do not always permit a 90 minute intake. Our administrative staff and clinicians will work with you to try to determine the most appropriate length for your initial evaluation, and to make the best use of the time allotted for your first visit.
Before the end of the first visit, your doctor will determine whether or not you will benefit from further evaluation or begin treatment. In some cases, an additional visit may be necessary to complete the initial evaluation (e.g. for someone with an extensive psychiatric history or complicated presentation), as extra time may be needed to gather information from you, speak to your family or loved ones, review past medical records or order any necessary lab work. If this is the case, your doctor will ask to schedule additional time (30-60 minutes) with you at a future date in order to complete your initial evaluation.
The initial visit is a consultation at South Coast Psychiatry, and is an opportunity to decide whether or not we are the right practice for you. If you are seeing one of our psychiatrists, medications are generally not prescribed until the evaluation has been completed, so please make sure that you have enough medication from your previous treating physician. If it turns out that you may benefit from treatment elsewhere, you will be referred to an appropriate treatment center.
During the evaluation, you will be asked questions about your current symptoms, your past psychiatric history, your medical history and other relevant information. These questions may be personal and uncomfortable to talk about or cause discomfort in some people. You are encouraged to be as open as possible so that the most accurate information can be used to help formulate your case.
If you have past medical or psychiatric records that may be helpful, copies of laboratory results or other test results, please bring them to the first visit. Please also have available contact information of your previous psychiatrists or other physicians taking care of you so that your psychiatrist or therapist can obtain collateral information if needed.
Once you call to schedule an initial evaluation at South Coast Psychiatry, we will e-mail you an appointment confirmation along with a link to the Forms For New Clients. Please click on the Forms For New Clients section to download the forms that are necessary to complete prior to your first visit. We recommend that you download, print out, and complete the necessary paperwork ahead of time so that you and your psychiatrist can concentrate on your current concerns and your treatment plan in your initial visit, rather than filling out paperwork. If you choose not to fill out the forms ahead of time, you should arrive 15-20 minutes before your initial appointment to fill out paperwork.
When you arrive, please check in with the receptionist, and then wait for your doctor or therapist to come get you.
Medications can be prescribed after the initial evaluation has been completed. Established patients are always given enough medication and refills until the next office visit, so refills are not necessary over the phone. This is to limit medication errors and to protect your safety. If you have missed or cancelled an appointment, you will be provided with enough medication until the re-scheduled visit, within 1-2 weeks of the missed appointment.
At South Coast Psychiatry, our clinicians do not participate in any insurance panels. Elimination of insurance obligations has allowed us to provide high-quality services that are tailored to your personal needs, not insurance company demands. Therefore, you will need to pay out-of-pocket at the time of service, and obtain reimbursement from your insurance companies for out-of-network benefits. You will be provided a receipt for each visit for your submission.
**Please note that many PPO plans do provide some reimbursement for mental health care provided by an out-of-network provider, so you may get a substantial portion (50-80%) of our fees back from your insurance company, depending on your specific plan. We recommend you contact your insurance company to inquire about your out-of-network mental health service benefits if insurance reimbursement is an important issue.
(NOTE: For Medicare eligible patients, we are not Medicare providers, and our services are not eligible for reimbursement by Medicare; please see the Summary of Medicare Acceptance Policy, below, for further information.)
Cancellation and No-Show Policies
Payments are due at the time of the visit (by cash, check or credit card). A block of time is reserved for your appointment, so if you need to cancel, please give at least 48 business hours of advance notice.
Business hours are considered the weekdays between Monday 8 am and Friday 5 pm, and do not include weekends or holidays when the office is closed.
For example, if you have an appointment at 4 pm on Monday February 7th, you would need to cancel by 4pm, Thursday February 4th. Should you cancel within less than 48 business hours of the designated time, or fail to appear for an appointment, you will be charged the full fee for the visit. Your insurance company will likely not reimburse you for missed sessions. Consistent attendance at follow-up appointments are important for safe medical care.
Expected Length and Frequency of Treatment
Length of treatment is individualized and determined collaboratively between you and your clinician. For medication treatment, the recommended length of treatment for most disorders is generally one year or greater, depending on your specific case. For therapy, length of treatment can vary between 12-20 weeks to many years. Cases that are complicated by co-morbid presentations (more than one disorder) or history of non-response to treatment may take longer.
The frequency of visits depends on the specific case. Some patients will be appropriate for weekly psychotherapy sessions to continue the process of addressing current or past issues or pursuing goals of increased self-awareness, pattern change, or interpersonal growth. For patients who are seeing one of our psychiatrists for medications alone, bi-weekly or monthly visits may be appropriate. Patients may be seen more often during initial treatment or medication adjustments. Patients on a stable medication regimen may be seen every one to two months. Continuous monitoring is important to ensure that you remain well.
Summary of Medicare Acceptance Policy
South Coast Psychiatry, Inc. does not participate in Medicare. By law, Medicare-eligible patients are required to enter into a private contract with South Coast Psychiatry, Inc. and we deliver medical care on a on a fee-for-service basis, which is NOT reimbursable by Medicare. By accepting the treatment contract with South Coast Psychiatry, you agree that you shall not submit a claim or ask South Coast Psychiatry, Inc. to submit a claim for payment under Medicare for services rendered, even if such items and services would otherwise be covered by Medicare. This means that you agree not to bill Medicare or ask South Coast Psychiatry, Inc. to bill Medicare, for services rendered by our personnel. Please note, the private contract is with South Coast Psychiatry, Inc. and applies only to our doctors. You are not compelled to enter into private contracts that apply to other Medicare-covered services furnished by other physicians or healthcare practitioners. This means that Medicare-covered services and payments are still available to you from other physicians or practitioners who have not opted out of Medicare, and therefore you may, if you so choose, use the services of those physicians or practitioners even when you enter into this private contract with South Coast Psychiatry, Inc.