Losing a healthcare provider, you trust is a devastating experience, especially for black women who tend to face systemic and lingering racism within the healthcare system. And while we can’t fault our doctors and nurses for taking their much-deserved leave, it does leave us with a hole to fill. Today’s tips are brought to you by the Center For Leadership Of Afrikan Women’s Wellness and offer insight into how to find a new provider.
Ask your current physician for recommendations.
There’s a good chance that your retiring doctor already has a list of potential candidates. They will most likely refer you to doctors that share similar values as they do. There’s no guarantee, however, that these recommendations are currently accepting new patients.
Get your medical records together.
Whether you choose a physician that your current doctor recommends or you have to search for a new one, another important first step is to have your medical records together. Your doctor can access your files, but you’ll also want to ensure they are in a PDF format, which you can easily share with your new doctor. A PDF merge tool can come in handy for you to combine PDF files and extract the ones that aren’t needed when you need to share certain information with different providers.
Evaluate your health insurance.
Your current doctor may accept your insurance, but if you find another healthcare provider, they might not. If you find later that you need to change your insurance plan, NPR recommends looking at the things that are predictable about your health. You also want to get to know insurance terms and, if you find it overwhelming, get an agent that can help.
Try not to stress.
Finding a new doctor can cause you stress; there’s probably no way around that. But there are many things that you can do to relax, release negative feelings, and give you mental clarity so that you can move forward with your search.
At some point, you’ll have a short list of potential providers. Schedule consultations with each of them. During these meetings, ask questions about their approach to patient care, availability, and how they handle emergencies. Pay close attention to their communication style, attentiveness, and willingness to listen to your concerns. A face-to-face meeting will help you assess their capability and determine if they make you comfortable. Remember, as Psychology Today points out, having a doctor you’re comfortable with can help you get better care.
Look for feedback.
We live in a digitally connected society, and there’s no reason that you can’t seek patient feedback from others to help you further evaluate the quality of care provided by the doctor you’re considering. Online reviews, patient testimonials, and even discussions and online chat rooms can reveal valuable information about the doctor’s experience, bedside manner, and overall patient satisfaction.
Consider your next care provider’s age.
Nearly a third of physicians retire before the age of 65, according to the American Medical Association. While there’s no guarantee that your doctor won’t take early retirement or move, your best chance of having a physician for the long term is to choose someone that’s not within a few years of retirement age already.
Losing a doctor to retirement is a challenge, especially given that there are not enough younger doctors in the pipeline to make up the deficit. This can make it extremely challenging to find a replacement physician actively taking new patients. But it happens, and we can’t control the retirement of those who care for us. Follow today’s advice, including asking for recommendations, gathering your medical records, and making sure that your new healthcare provider accepts your insurance, and you’ll reduce the burden and, hopefully, find yourself comfortably in the care of another qualified healthcare professional.