Person shaking the hand of their new healthcare provider.

Switching healthcare providers: What you should know

There could be many reasons why you’re thinking about switching healthcare providers. Things change, and whether you’re adjusting to a new work schedule, starting a family, or struggling with communication, taking this leap may be for the better.

Want to change your healthcare provider? Consider this

Your primary care provider (PCP) may have been a perfect fit for you at one point, but if you’ve been noticing ways that you and your PCP haven’t been working together well lately, it just might be time to move on. And when you’re ready to look for a new healthcare provider, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Different kinds of PCPs

Traditionally, the blanket label, “primary care provider” can be applied to a wide range of specialty care. Typically, most PCPs identify themselves with one of five branches of medicine:

  • General Practice and Family Practice: healthcare providers in this group are often doctors or nurse practitioners (NPs) that offer preventive and comprehensive healthcare to families and people of all ages and genders.
  • Pediatrics: Professionals in this field specialize in the care and treatment of children. They are ready to provide care from infancy, all the way up until patients turn twenty-one! Pediatricians give patients a great opportunity to bond and forge unique relationships that offer comfort to both parents and children.
  • Internal Medicine: Think of these providers as adult pediatricians. Unlike General or Family Practice providers, Internal medicine is dedicated to adult comprehensive care.
  • Midwifery: Despite popular belief, midwives are professionals that specialize not only in prenatal and postpartum care, but also all around well-woman care. These certified professionals are not doctors, but often work with physicians. A Certified Midwife (CM) goes through extensive training, but is not required to have a nursing license. However, Certified Nursing Midwives (CNMs) do have nursing degrees. Both groups have passed the same midwife certification exams, and can prescribe certain medications.
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology: These are doctors and NPs that also specialize in well-woman care. They help prevent and diagnose diseases, and provide fertility, prenatal, and postpartum care.

Being confronted with all of these choices can be overwhelming. There’s no pressure to make this decision right away. Doing some more research, and talking to others can really make a difference!

Think about your personal needs

Everyone is different, and finding a healthcare provider that is ready and willing to cater to your needs is key. Beyond medical treatment, If you’re having a hard time communicating with your PCP about certain sensitive or personal topics, it can put a strain on the relationship and affect the quality of your personalized care. It might sound silly, but being able to talk to your PCP about a bump on your head, as well as the embarrassing nosedive that got you there, can really affect your experience. No one wants to feel anxious at a checkup, and having a rapport with your PCP can put your nerves at ease. Trust your instincts, if something isn’t working for you, it’s not a bad idea to look at what else is out there.

Watch out for time and scheduling conflicts

Most folks don’t want to take a forty-five-minute drive just to run an errand, and going to see your PCP shouldn’t feel like a burden! Your time is precious, and being closer to your PCP can save some of it. Oh, and let us not forget about business hours! If you have a crazy schedule, taking time off to get a checkup may not be an option. Take a look at office hours, do they fit into your schedule? Maybe an office offers weekend or extended hours? It also doesn’t hurt to ask for a special time slot. The answer may be, “no” but hey, you never know until you ask.

Is your insurance plan compatible with the PCP?

If you have insurance, you’ll probably want to check if a healthcare provider is covered under your plan sooner rather than later. A lot of times insurance companies actually have a composed “network” of doctors that are covered under their plans. You can usually find these lists on the insurer’s website.

Pay attention to other patient’s experiences

Visiting the office of a healthcare provider or reading reviews online can offer a lot of insight into how that business operates. Is the staff friendly? Is the office well organized? Does it have that sterile doctor smell? These are the big questions.

Don’t know where to start looking? Ask around!

It can be hard to jump into a new situation when you don’t really know what to expect. Asking friends and family members for referrals can be a great way to find your next PCP. If you’re moving, it may also be a good idea to ask your current healthcare provider if they know anyone in that area that might be a good match.

The takeaway

Deciding to change your healthcare provider can prove to be nerve-racking, but it can still be done. Just put yourself first, and don’t try to force yourself into a situation that you aren’t comfortable with. Remember, There are many fish in the medicinal sea, one is sure to be a match for your individual needs.

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