Frequently asked questions
Can I call for an appointment at the Salem Health Spine Center?
No. The Salem Health Spine Center guided patient service (GPS) is available only with a referral from your primary care practitioner (PCP) or specialist you may be seeing. If you do not yet have a PCP, you can search our provider directory to locate one who fits your needs and is accepting new patients.
Can the specialist evaluate my condition by reviewing my medical information without seeing me in the office?
Yes. The spine specialist evaluates your condition based on your medical history, images and test results. This is often much faster than scheduling an office visit. The specialist then provides an initial impression and treatment plan.
The treatment plan may recommend you see a specific specialist (e.g., a physical therapist or physiatrist), schedule additional tests or schedule an appointment with a neurosurgeon.
What is a physiatrist?
A physiatrist, also called a physical medicine and rehabilitation (PMR) physician, is a medical doctor specializing in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of all types of physical disabilities. Physiatrists specialize in restoring optimal function to people with injuries to the muscles, bones, tissues and nervous system.
How long before I hear something back?
In most cases, the specialist reviews your information within a few days of receiving your complete information (medical history, films, etc.). Once the specialist provides an impression and treatment plan, the nurse navigator will call you to advise you of the recommendation and next steps.
If I need an appointment with the surgeon, will I see that doctor in person?
Yes. We will schedule the earliest appointment possible with the recommended specialist. If your primary physician refers you to a specialist who does not participate in the Spine Center’s network, then you or your doctor will have to schedule that appointment, and you will no longer be assisted by the Salem Health Spine Center.
How quickly will I get an appointment after the review?
Generally, within a few weeks. The spine specialist will recommend when and with whom (surgeon, physical therapist, etc.) your appointment should be scheduled.
Will I need to get my imaging films from the imaging center or will the Salem Health Spine Center retrieve them?
The Salem Health Spine Center can request the images from your referring doctor or directly from the imaging center if possible. If needed, we will ask you to pick up your films and deliver them to us.
Keep in mind, we can’t begin reviewing your medical history until we have all images available for the spine specialist to view.
Can I just bring my films in when I come in for my appointment?
No. The specialist is reviewing your medical information and films ahead of time in the hope that you can avoid seeing a surgeon. By reviewing your films and medical history, we can give you the quickest and most appropriate care.
What will happen with my films?
Your films are returned to the originating imaging center upon completion of your care. If the films are your own personal copies, we’ll return them to you.
Will my insurance cover my visit?
Salem Health Spine Center provides free services, which include the initial intake interview, review of your records and the impression and treatment recommendation by the spine specialists, education materials, coordination of your care and communication with you and your referring physician. All of this is done online and over the phone.
If an appointment is recommended, please contact your insurance company to verify your coverage and the level of benefits provided by your particular policy.
Does anyone at Salem Health Spine Center actually see me in person?
No. The Salem Health Spine Center handles the intake interview, review of records, impression and treatment plan, education materials, and progress reports to your referring physician online and over the phone.
If an appointment is necessary, the Salem Health Spine Center will facilitate scheduling with the specialist. You will see the specialist at their regular office.