A Perspective on our Practice from the Perspective of a Physician’s Husband
My name is Will Asch and I have been married to Dr. Gina DelGiudice-Asch for over 30 years. It has been a long journey filled with challenges and with joy. Like many of our patients, we have experienced medicine from the perspective of caregivers for our parents and our children as well as ourselves. I have been involved with special projects and decision making for the practice for many years, but, I have only been working full time since June 2020. My background is in engineering, business, and education; unusual but surprisingly beneficial experiences and qualifications for supporting our patients, physicians, and staff.
The Covid crisis created a need for people like me who could step in and support overworked medical professionals. The need for services for our patients, both old and new, has increased exponentially as has the need to support our staff. During this time, our staff has increased in size and is better able to respond to challenges both in and outside of our office. In this environment, it seems we all have unusual demands on our time and we also find that services are less readily available.
The pandemic has shown us that we need to improve the services we offer patients and deliver them more efficiently so that our staff can be more effective and patients can move through their office visits safely and punctually. While we have faced financial pressures, we have responded by investing more in our practice. We have redone our telephone system so that patients can contact our medical assistants directly. We now have a secure messaging system that protects our patient’s security while making communications convenient. We are simplifying procedures to make it easier for our patients to move through the entire process of seeing a doctor and getting the support they need to navigate our healthcare system between visits.
Layman’s Perspective on Rheumatological Diagnosis and Treatment
The process of diagnosis of a rheumatological illness involves not just analyzing symptoms but also looking into the history of the patient and her family. The patient often holds key information that will lead the physician on a path of investigation that often includes ordering and analysis of blood testing and radiological imaging. For most rheumatological illnesses, there is no one test result that leads to a diagnosis. As a result, rheumatology practices must devote a lot of resources to processing and analyzing test results to make diagnoses.
Rheumatologists may treat a condition immediately on seeing a patient, but the process leading to diagnosis may not be complete for months. While most problems our physicians see are rheumatological, they often diagnose conditions related to other fields. Many of the medications we prescribe enable people to overcome debilitating and even life-threatening illnesses. The side effects and efficacies of these treatments must be monitored regularly as the reaction of the body to these medications can change with time. All medications have side effects and the doctors monitor their effects by asking patients to get bloodwork or radiologic testing. We have patients who have seen Dr. Del Giudice since she left Hospital for Special Surgery and began working in New Jersey over 25 years ago. They know that their medications have allowed them to live without symptoms from their condition. They also know the regular process of going for testing before their follow-up appointments.
Minimizing Financial Impact for our Patients
A big part of what our staff does is help patients navigate our Medicare and health insurance systems. At every visit, we check Medicare and insurance cards both visually and through our clearinghouse. This can help us prevent consultations that are not supported by third-party payers. Patients usually make a copay and then get billed for any part of the provider determined rate that the provider and the copay do not take care of.
After a visit, patients are often asked to get blood tests. This is one aspect of the financial experience of patients that we take no part in. We order and process these tests, a cost that is included in the payment for your visit. We receive no financial benefit from testing companies. The patient’s process of getting radiologic imaging is similar although there are a few tests with certain carriers that we file for prior authorizations for patients before the patients can get them done.
In the last 30 years, newly developed medications have made it possible to ease the burden of many of our patient’s ailments. Some of these medications can be quite costly. A rheumatology practice files for authorization of these medications and related services. Sometimes pharmaceutical companies offer services to support our patients and we aid patients in applying for this support.
Affiliation with Penn Medicine – Princeton Medical Center
Dr. DelGiudice has served as the head of the rheumatology department at Princeton Hospital and now Penn Medicine – Princeton Medical Center for the last several years and in past years, Dr. Froncek too has served in this role. Our doctors are available to our patients if necessary when they are hospitalized at this hospital and are on call to see patients in emergencies.