Phone 281-528-1511 Fax 281-419-8485
Office hours by appointment: M-F 8:00am - 5:00pm.
Call us at 281-528-1511 to schedule your visit today!
|What to Expect and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
To help you navigate your way through your digestive care, Dr Shailaja Behara created this list of most frequently asked questions of our patients. We strive to ensure all our patients are comfortable, happy, and have a pleasant healthcare experience. This list provides questions and enquires about our patient services, treatment and results, medical records, billing and insurance policies as well as questions about gastroenterology, procedures, and common GI conditions etc.
Preparing for your office visit is a very important part of ensuring that we can meet all your needs and provide you with the highest quality of care.
If you have any questions, we would be more than happy to answer them; or your answers may be located below. If you need further clarification, just ask one of our skilled staff members at 281-528-1511 or click here to easily send us an email.
Questions About RDC Patient Services
Hours of Service
|Q: What are your office hours and telephone numbers?|
A: Office hours are Monday -Friday 8 AM-5 PM. Patients are seen by appointment only. The office will be closed for lunch from 12 AM-1 PM.
Q: What happens if I need a physician after working hours?
A: There will be a point of contact 24 hours a day for any concerns you may have. Please call our office, and our answering service will take your information and contact the physician to return your call.
Q: What happens if it is an emergency?
A: In an emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest hospital.
|Q: How do I make an appointment?
A: You can either log onto our online portal by clicking here to preregister via patient portal and request for appointment or call our office at 281-528-1511 to request for an appointment. Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: May I fill out my paperwork in advance?
A: For the convenience of our patients, we use our patient portal for patient registration. The required health information can be entered at your leisure, prior to your appointment, which allows our physicians and staff to be prepared for your visit when you arrive. If you do not have email access or wish not to sign up for patient portal, please fill out the forms by downloading and printing and bring them with you for your office appointment to help us to provide the services in a timely manner. For new patients, our schedulers will provide you with access information so that you can log into the patient portal once your appointment has been confirmed. For existing patients, please log in to your patient portal and update any health information that may have changed since your last visit. You will be able to review your lab and test results as well as contact our office, through the patient portal, once you have set up your account.
Q: How long do I have to wait for an appointment with the office?
A: Our office staff will try to accommodate your request to see the doctors at a convenient time and office location. We can schedule the appointment with the first available office location to shorten your wait period, if you wish. We try to accommodate same day/next day appointments.
Q: How long should my appointment take?
A: The amount of time varies depending on the type of problem. New visits typically last between 30 – 60 minutes. Return visits are shorter. We value your time and try to run on time, but emergencies and unexpected events sometimes cause delay.
Q: What should I expect?
A: At the front desk you will meet with a staff member who will confirm your personal contact and insurance information, check you in for your appointment, give you some papers to hold, and ask you to have a seat. A nurse will then call your name and bring you (generally alone, without your family members) to the “triage” area where she will review your medications and allergies, check your heart rate and blood pressure, and ask you a few questions. Afterwards, any family members can accompany you as the nurse shows you to the clinic exam room.
The physician will meet you and ask detailed questions about your current problems, past medical history, family history, and other pertinent information. The physician will then confirm your list of medications and allergies, and then perform a complete exam. Afterwards, the physician will discuss the plan of care, give you written instructions (including her contact information), possibly order tests (such as blood tests, x-rays, GI procedures, and motility tests), and either refer you back to your referring physician or set up a follow-up appointment. You will then be brought to the check-out area where a staff member will answer any questions, collect any required payments, and schedule any tests and appointments.
Q: What if I need to cancel my appointment?
A: If you are unable to keep your appointment, please notify our office at 281-528-1511 as soon as possible, and we will be happy to reschedule. Cancellations made with less than 24 hours’ notice for office visits and 48 hours for procedures will be subject to a cancellation fee. This enables us to schedule appointments for other patients who need to be seen.
Q: Do I need a referral to make an appointment at your office?
A: Many of our patients do have a referral from their physician but you may call and schedule an appointment yourself as well. Or request appointment by sending us email or requesting through patient portal. Various insurance programs require referrals for visits to the specialist and for diagnostic tests. Please check with your insurance company to determine the need for a referral. Additionally, please check with your doctor's office to make sure your referral is received prior to your appointment. If a referral has not been received by the time of your appointment, you will be required to pay cash at the appointment, or you will be rescheduled.
Q: May I see the physician and have a procedure if I do not have medical insurance?
A: Yes. In addition to the types of insurances, Regional Digestive Consultants P.A., also accepts patients without medical insurance.
Q: Where does your physician perform procedures?
A: Dr. Behara performs procedures at two local Ambulatory Surgery Centers: Memorial Hermann Surgery Center in The Woodlands and TOPS Surgical Specialty Hospital. She may also perform procedures at Houston Northwest Hospital, Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, Memorial Hermann Hospital in The Woodlands.
Q: What if I can’t speak English?
A: Not to worry, our highly trained staff and physicians are able to speak English, Spanish and Hindi and Telugu. You may bring a family member who can speak English to help with paperwork, translation etc.
Q: Do you provide GI services to children?
A: We do not see patients under the age of 17. Please have your primary care physician contact us if there are any specific questions.
Q: What information should I bring to my appointment?
A: Please bring your completed new patient packet to your first appointment. You may also submit the questionnaire via patient portal in advance (preferred way). This new patient packet is very important since it would contain information of your complete Medical and Surgical history, current medications you are taking, family history, allergies, and a list of all other doctors currently caring for you. Additionally, please bring your driver’s license or a valid ID and your current insurance cards (both primary and secondary), referral letter (if required), reports, X-rays, MRI’s, CT scans etc., and any other relevant information. It is very important to have an accurate list of medications you are currently taking. It is often easiest for patients to bring them to their appointment in a bag, so we can ensure that we have them all documented in our records. We also encourage you to come to your visit with a written list of questions to ensure you do not forget to ask them when you are seeing the doctor.
Q: Do I need to bring my medical records to my office visit?
A: It is very helpful to our providers if you are able to bring your pertinent medical records to your appointment. This assists the doctor in learning more about your health history and enables us to best serve your needs in your diagnosis and treatment.
Q: What type of insurance plans and payments do you accept?
A: We participate in most commercial insurance plans, HMO's, and accept Medicare assignment. We will gladly file your insurance for you; however, we do request your portion (co-payment, deductible, co-insurance) be paid at the time services are rendered. These payments may be made by cash, check, or credit card. We accept major credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover. We also offer special cash discount prices for cash-paying patients for our professional fees and at our associated ambulatory surgery centers.
Q: Are my medical records kept private and confidential?
A: Your medical records are handled with utmost respect for your privacy. Our staff is bound by strict confidentiality requirements as a condition of employment regarding your medical records. We will not release your medical records without your consent.
Q: Where can I get a copy of my medical records?
A: When you check out after seeing your provider, you will receive a summary of your visit. Also, your referring physician will receive a complete report about your visit, potential diagnosis, recommendations, and any plans for further testing.
Q: How will my primary care physician work with my gastroenterologist?
A: Our office will communicate with your primary care physician about the results of your visit and/or procedure. They will discuss what is appropriate for treatment, follow-up visits and/or future exams if needed.
Q: When will I get my results?
A: It usually takes 10-14 business days depending on the type of testing performed. If several tests are ordered, we like to review all results together to formulate a complete plan of care. If testing is ordered prior to an office visit, results are given in person at the time of your visit.
Q: What if I have questions about my treatment, medications, lab results, or other concerns?
A: If you have a question about treatment plan, please call our office at 281-528-1511.
Our office staff are vital to our practice, and to a large degree, keep our office running smoothly by efficiently. Any questions about your medical treatment, medications, lab results, or other concerns should be directed to the nurses. If they are unable to answer your question, your chart will be reviewed with the physician, and her advice will be relayed to you as quickly as possible. The nurses will return phone calls in order of urgency.
Q: How do I get my prescription filled?
A: We request that you contact your pharmacy for prescription refills. Please give our office 48 hours to go over the request. Refills will not be done on weekends or after hours. If you have not been seen in more than a year, you may be required to come into the office for an appointment before getting a refill. If your insurance company requires pre-authorization for your prescription, it will take 1 week to complete the documentation they require.
Q: Why do you require annual visits to the physician for prescription refills?
A: We require that patients be seen by their physician or mid-level provider once a year for any prescription refills in order to re-evaluate their health status. We may also determine if there is a new medication that would better suit your needs.
Q: What is your policy on prior authorization requests?
A: Prior authorization requests need time. The time that each request takes depends on the insurance and the complexity of the medication or imaging.
Non-complex medications include things like acid reducing medications. These medications typically take 5-7 business days to get approved. Please have your pharmacy fax us the prior authorization request to speed up the process. If the pharmacy does not fax us the request, the process will take extra time. Our fax number is 281-419-8485. Complicated medications for inflammatory bowel disease or hepatitis C can take weeks to get approved. We ask for your patience with this process.
Imaging such as MRI and CT scans take at least 3-5 business days to get approved. If you do not provide us with enough time to get your prior authorization, you may be asked to reschedule your imaging.
Q: Who do I speak with regarding billing questions?
A: Please call our billing department at 1-800-540-0429 or email us at email@example.com.
Q: Do you bill my insurance?
A: Yes, we bill your insurance within a few days of providing the service to you.
Q: How much do I owe for the services?
A: Our billing department will determine your part of the cost after they receive payment from your insurance company. You can call your insurance company to ask them to explain your benefit program. Often some insurance companies only require that we charge your specialty office copay of $25 or $50.
Q: How much will my procedure cost?
A: This can vary depending on insurance coverage. Generally, patients will be notified in advance of their copay or coinsurance. Procedures performed in the Ambulatory Endoscopy Center offer a tremendous savings over the hospital setting. Medicare and other insurers cover screening colonoscopies based on age and family history.
Q: Are there any other costs associated with my procedures?
A: There is a cost for your procedure prep kit. There may also be facility and anesthesia charges and pathology charges associated with your procedure, depending on the physician’s findings during the procedure. They will bill your insurance carrier separately for their services.
Patient Portal Login
Q: How do I access the patient portal log in?
A: Please call the office and inform the staff you would like to sign up for the patient log in. You will be sent an e-mail and an access number along with directions for signing in. You can use the patient portal for making appointments, viewing and updating your health information and requesting RX refills, health care reminders etc. If you already have your login information, just click here.
Questions About Gastroenterology in General
Q: What is a gastroenterologist?
A: A gastrointestinal (GI) doctor diagnoses and treats conditions affecting the digestive tract, which include the liver, pancreas, stomach, intestines, colon and esophagus. Whether it’s a minor symptom or serious disease, there are many reasons an individual may visit a gastroenterologist.
Gastroenterologists see patients in the hospital and clinic and perform endoscopic procedures (e.g., upper endoscopy and colonoscopy). Gastroenterologists have completed four years of medical school, three years of internal medicine residency and between three and four years of gastroenterology fellowship. The most critical emphasis during the training period is attention to detail and incorporation of their comprehensive knowledge of the entire gastrointestinal tract to provide the highest quality endoscopy and consultative services. Dr Behara is board certified gastroenterologist. She also offers colon cancer screenings and small bowel pill cam endoscopy.
Q: Do gastroenterologists perform surgery?
A: No. They perform endoscopic procedures, but do not perform surgery. When necessary, they work closely with GI surgeons.
Q: What if I need a referral to another provider?
A: When indicated, our office will create or initiate the referral and obtain appointment date/time.
Q: What illnesses are treated by Gastroenterologists?
A: In addition to rare disorders of the digestive system, gastroenterologists diagnose or treat the following common conditions:
Colorectal cancer, including determining whether you have a genetic risk
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
Diverticulitis, diverticulosis and ischemic bowel disease
Celiac disease and food intolerances
Heartburn and GERD
Chronic vomiting and gastroparesis
Functional illness, such as constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, belching and flatulence
Peptic ulcer disease and Helicobacter pylori
Acute and chronic pancreatitis
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
GI infections caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa
Q: What is Colorectal Cancer?
A: Your doctor will recommend screening for colon and rectal cancer (also called colorectal cancer) starting at age 50 if you don’t have health problems or risk factors that make you more likely to develop colon cancer.
You have risk factors for colorectal cancer if you are male, are African American, or someone in your family has had polyps or colorectal cancer, have a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, have Lynch syndrome, or another genetic disorder that increases the risk of colorectal cancer, have other factors, such as that you weigh too much or smoke cigarettes. If you are more likely to develop colorectal cancer, your doctor may recommend screening at a younger age, and more often.
If you are older than age 75, talk with your doctor about whether you should be screened. For more information, read the current colorectal cancer screening guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
Government health insurance plans, such as Medicare, and private insurance plans sometimes change whether and how often they pay for cancer screening tests. Check with your insurance plan to find out how often your plan will cover a screening colonoscopy.
Q: How often are colonoscopies are needed, and is it covered by my insurance?
A: The frequency of colonoscopy is determined by an individual's risk for colon cancer. This is influenced by family history and the presence or absence of colon polyps on your initial or subsequent exams.
Procedure Related Questions
Q: What should I do if I have questions about my preparation for my procedure?
A: Our office staff will help you with any questions about your prep. Please refer to the information given to you when your procedure was scheduled or call the office. In addition, our web site has information prepared by physicians under GI procedures and services.
Q: How long does my procedure take?
A: The actual procedure will take 15-30 minutes. Registration, pre-operative and post-operative care will keep you in our facility approximately 1½ to 2 hours. Capsule endoscopy requires 2 visits and takes about 30 minutes each.
Q: May I take my current medications before colonoscopy or any other procedure?
A: Generally, you should take prescribed medication, as directed, both on the preparation day and on the day of the procedure. However, you might be recommended by your doctor not to take anticoagulants (blood thinners) for at least 7-10 days prior to the procedure. These include Coumadin, aspirin, Plavix, vitamin E, and ibuprofen etc., Your doctor may tell you to change your dosage or to stop taking certain medications before the endoscopy.
Don’t make any changes to your daily dosage unless your doctor tells you to do so.
Q: Does a colonoscopy screening exam require an overnight stay in a hospital?
A: No, this screening is almost always done on an outpatient basis.
Q: Will my endoscopic procedure be painful?
A: No. With the modern anesthetic sedatives, your examination should be comfortable.
Q: Why do I need to bring someone to drive me home after my procedure?
A: Because of the sedation given during your procedure, you will need a friend or family member to come with you and drive you home. These medications make the test easier for the patient, but do not wear off immediately. For your safety, you should not operate machinery or drive following your procedure. During your recovery time, your family will be allowed to sit with you until you are discharged. You may not use public transportation unless accompanied by family or a friend.
Q: How will I feel after my procedure?
A: After your procedure, you will probably have a slightly dry mouth and feel drowsy, gassy and hungry. The dry mouth and drowsiness are from the sedation. They will gradually wear off. The gassiness is from the puffs of air that are put into the digestive tract during the endoscopic procedure. This helps your doctor see inside your stomach or colon. Most of the air is removed before the procedure ends, but some of it just has to pass naturally.
Q: Does a colonoscopy show if I have colon cancer?
A: Yes. In fact, colonoscopy is considered to be the most accurate way to determine the health of your colon. This includes checking for cancer, polyps, colitis, diverticulosis, and other less common lower digestive problems.
Q: If the doctor finds a polyp during my procedure, will she remove it?
A: In most cases, yes. Dr Behara is trained in the latest endoscopic techniques. Most polyps can be removed at the time of procedure.
Q: When will I be able to able to go back to work?
A: Most patients are able to return to work the following day.
Q: How soon may I eat after my procedure?
A: Unless your physician gives you dietary restrictions, you are free to eat a normal breakfast or lunch after leaving from the endoscopy center.
Q: What Can I eat after colonoscopy?
A: After a colonoscopy, you’ll eat and drink things that are gentle on your digestive system. Drinking lots of fluid and fluid-based foods will help you avoid dehydration. Your doctor may also recommend you follow a soft, low-residue diet immediately after the procedure. This consists of a limited amount of dairy, plus low-fiber foods which are easy to digest and produce less stool.
Foods and drinks to have the day after colonoscopy include: drinks with electrolytes, water, fruit juice, vegetable juice, herbal tea, saltine crackers, graham crackers, soup, applesauce, scrambled eggs, tender, cooked vegetables, canned fruit, such as peaches, yogurt, Jell-O, popsicles, pudding, mashed or baked potato, white bread or toast, soft fish, peanut butter etc.
Q: What can I not to eat after a colonoscopy?
A: After colonoscopy your system needs recuperation time. This is partly due to the procedure itself, and partly due to the bowel prep you went through before it. To aid healing, avoiding foods that are hard to digest the after the procedure is beneficial. This includes anything which might irritate your bowels, such as spicy foods and those high in fiber. Heavy, greasy foods may also increase feelings of nausea after general anesthesia. Air is introduced into the colon during the procedure, so that it can remain open. Because of this, you may expel more gas afterwards than you normally do. If so, you may wish to avoid carbonated beverages, which add more gas to your system. If you had a polyp removed, your doctor may recommend additional dietary guidelines for you. These include avoiding foods, such as seeds, nuts, and popcorn, for an additional two weeks.
Foods and drinks to avoid the day after colonoscopy include: alcoholic beverages, steak, or any type of tough, hard-to-digest meat, whole grain bread, whole grain crackers, or crackers with seeds, raw vegetables, corn, legumes, brown rice, fruit with the skin on, dried fruit, such as raisins, coconut, spices, such as garlic, curry, and red pepper, highly-seasoned foods, crunchy nut butters, popcorn, fried food and nuts.
Q: What if the GI procedure shows something abnormal?
A: If your doctor thinks an area needs further evaluation, the physician might biopsy the site to be analyzed. Your GI doctor might control bleeding by injecting medications or by cauterization (sealing off bleeding vessels with heat treatment) or by small clips. Your doctor also might find polyps and the physician can remove them during the exam.
Q: What are possible complications of colonoscopy?
A: A colonoscopy is generally safe. One possible complication is perforation, or tear, through the bowel wall that could require surgery. Bleeding might occur, but it's usually minor and can be controlled through the colonoscope. Some patients may have complications or a reaction to the sedatives. Contact your doctor if you have severe abdominal pain, fever, chills, or rectal bleeding.
Q: How long will I have to wait for the results of my procedure?
A: The physician will speak with you about the visual findings on your procedure before you go home. If biopsies were taken or polyps removed, you should call the office for results a week from your procedure date. Your procedure findings and biopsies results will be discussed in detail at the time of your follow up visit.
Q: What about follow-up care?
A: Follow-up care is an important part of your treatment plan. We have a recall system that notifies the patient by mail when you are due for follow up care such as an office visit, labs or procedure. Once you receive your recall letter, please contact our scheduling department to schedule your next appointment.
Q: Will the results of my visit be sent to my primary care physician?
A: Dr. Behara’s findings and recommendations will be discussed with you and a letter and/or copy of your procedure note will be forwarded to your primary care physician for their records.
Q: What is virtual colonoscopy, and can I have that instead?
A: Virtual colonoscopy is a technique designed to reconstruct three-dimensional images of the colon using a CAT scan. Studies have suggested that this technique might miss a significant percentage of smaller polyps that can be found with colonoscopy. Virtual colonoscopy requires you to be cleansed just as if you were having a traditional colonoscopy. Furthermore, if polyps were detected by virtual colonoscopy, you would still need a traditional colonoscopy to remove these polyps, thus resulting in two procedures. Dr. Behara does not recommend virtual colonoscopy as an adequate screening test.
Q: Why must I take so much laxative and what can I do if the times are inconvenient?
A: Whether or not the doctor is able to see any polyps or other abnormalities during a colonoscopy depends a great deal on how clean the colon is. That is, the better the preparation, the more the physician can see the walls of the colon. Recent studies have highlighted the importance of preparation in the success of the colonoscopy procedure and the doctor's ability to find polyps. Small polyps or other lesions can easily be hidden if the preparation is not ideal. It is very important that you complete the entire preparation as instructed. Some patients may need to get up during the night or very early in the morning to complete the preparation. The timing of this dose of laxative is the most important. Your doctor has specified this timing to get the best results for an effective colonoscopy. Check with our office if you have questions about adjusting the times of your laxatives. Some minor adjustments in timing may be possible or sometimes scheduling the procedure at an earlier or later time in the day can help with inconvenient preparation times.
Q: What Questions should I Ask My Gastroenterologist?
A: Individuals living with a digestive disease or disorder are usually destined to a long-term relationship with a gastroenterologist. Gastroenterologists have focused their extensive medical training on the digestive tract and uniquely qualified to assess and manage the diseases and disorders and likely treated a number of cases similar to you. Consider preparing some questions to make the most of your appointment and can take an active role in managing your disease. Consider bringing a family member or friend to help you process the information and ensure all of your questions get answered.
Here are some questions that you may want to ask your gastroenterologist:
• What is my specific diagnosis?
• What causes my condition or disorder?
• How common is my diagnosis?
• Was my condition preventable?
• Which of my symptoms led to my diagnosis?
• What other symptoms will I possibly experience from the condition or disorder?
• What should I expect with this diagnosis?
• What treatment options do I have?
• Is my condition considered a fatal disease?
• What is my prognosis?
• How experienced are you in treating my condition?
• Do I need any tests or scans or endoscopic or invasive tests to confirm my diagnosis? If so, which one(s)?
• Will any of these tests or scans need to be repeated after I undergo treatment? How often?
• Should my family members or I get tested for possible hereditary issues?
• What should I do in the event I experience complications, aggravated symptoms or a flare-up before my next scheduled appointment?
• What should I watch for After Starting the treatment?
• Should I change or modify my diet?
• Will this impact my ability to work?
• Can I still travel or drive?
• Are there any activities I should avoid?
• Should I be concerned about any financial or insurance concerns due to my condition and treatment?
• Would I be able to get a recommendation or assistance in finding additional medical professional help when recommended as part of the treatment plan?
• Is there support program available that can help my family and me?
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