Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Establishing Care With a New Provider: Step by Step

You've made the decision to seek out a new healthcare provider... what's next?

This is the third post for establishing care with a new provider: My Journey and The First Step.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
Below are some guidelines to help you through the process. I've divided them into before, during, and after the appointment.

Before 
  • Find a healthcare provider. Follow this link to Find a Headache Specialist
  • Check insurance coverage and restrictions. Contact or search to ensure your new healthcare provider will be covered by your insurance. If your new provider is a specialist, check with insurance to find out if a referral is required. 
  • Schedule your appointment. Either have you current provider submit a referral or contact the new provider to schedule an appointment. Specialists are often difficult to get in to see. Be prepared for a long wait to get on the schedule. 
  • Request and complete paperwork ahead of time. Some providers will automatically send you the paperwork ahead of time. If they don't, simply request it. 
  • Request to transfer your medical records and test results. Contact your current and/or previous provider(s) to make this request. You'll need to submit a record release form. The transfer of records can take several weeks, so make the request early. 
  • Consider bringing someone with you to your visit. Make sure this is someone that you're comfortable having in the room with you. Have him/her take notes of what the doctor says, so that you can focus on the appointment. 
  • Make a list of questions and concerns. Prioritize the list, as you may not be able to get to all of them.
  • Prepare a list of current medications (including prescription, over the counter, vitamins, and supplements). Providing a list of previous medications can be useful, as well. 
During
  • Share your short introduction. This doesn’t have to be done in a formal way, but it can often provide a good start at the appointment. 
  • Answer questions honestly. This is not a time to wear a mask. Try not to over- or under- state the intensity or severity of your symptoms, as an accurate assessment is important. Be prepared to be specific in describing symptoms and how they affect you. 
  • Address your list of questions and concerns. It may not be possible to address the entire list during the appointment. 
  • Clarify if there is anything the healthcare provider would like you to track. Each provider has different preferences about what they want tracked, for how long, and in what format. 
  • Discuss goals of treatment. Sometimes the goals and expectations that we have for our treatment plan vary from our doctor's. 
  • Discuss expectations for communication between visits and for emergencies. 
  • Ensure that you know / understand what your next steps are (testing, treatments, etc), and when you should plan your next appointment. 
After
  • Complete any follow-up tasks your provider requested (if applicable). 
  • Follow the treatment plan you and your provider have agreed upon. 
  • Request office notes for your personal records. Some doctors utilize an online portal for records and communication. 
Rest assured that the initial appointment with your doctor is just the beginning. You don't have to get everything in during that first interaction. This is the start of a partnership and another part of your journey.

"Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success." - Henry Ford

Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog is intended as medical or legal advice.

What I write on this site is my own, and if it is someone else's, I take special care to attribute it to the original author. So, please don't use any of my material without proper attribution or permission. Thanks.