The Importance of Continuity of Care
Last year, my family and I moved from Southern California to the great Midwest. We absolutely love it out here and have zero regrets about making the cross-country move. One of my biggest fears surrounding our moving so far from the place I had spent my entire life wasn't about the move itself, but about finding a new medical team.
Finding new care providers
Prior to our move, I had a rock-solid team of doctors (primary care doctor, Pulmonologist, and cardiologist.) I was very fortunate and blessed to have them caring for me for so long and they all communicated with each other etc. Once we moved and were settled, I began my search for new doctor(s). I got recommendations from my coworkers as well as new friends in our town. I listened to my patients when they would tell me how much they loved their doctors and I also did some research on my own.
Once I decided on a new primary doctor and had my initial appointment, I needed to get established rather quickly with a Pulmonologist and cardiologist as well. I was very happy with my new primary doctor and he was able to give me some recommendations. Again, I chose well and absolutely adore my new Pulmonologist after meeting her for the first time. After going over my complicated lung history, she updated my Asthma Action Plan and said she wanted to see me for a follow up in three months. I was very pleased with how the appointment went.
Appointment with a practice and not a doctor?
A month later I received a letter in the mail telling me it was time to call to schedule my follow up appointment. But the name wasn't my doctors on the form. It was to be made with a different Pulmonologist in the same practice. I was not okay with this. I was just getting established with my new Pulmonologist and wanted to continue with the continuity of care with the same doctor.
Perhaps in the future, seeing another practitioner within the practice would be okay as long as they are familiar with my history etc, but not at this point. I’ll also add that if it were for a sick visit and not a regularly scheduled appointment, that is a different story. I called the office to speak with the scheduler and voiced my concerns and to my surprise, they said no problem and scheduled my appointment with the same Pulmonologist I saw previously.
Ensuring continuity of care
Continuity of Care is of utmost importance when it comes to managing your asthma. Not all asthma is the same and it isn't always treated the same. Some asthmatics wheeze, while others don't. Some have only coughing as the main symptom. Having an established doctor who knows about *your* asthma will make treating it easier.
Don't be afraid to speak up for yourself. Express your concerns if you find yourself being bounced around between practitioners within the same practice. If you find a nurse practitioner or physician assistant within the practice that you love and mesh well with then stick with that professional!
If you find yourself in an unavoidable situation where you are having to see a doctor or practitioner that is not your normal one, be sure to have your asthma notes with you. They might not have had the time to review your entire chart before they are in the room. Be sure to advocate for yourself when scheduling appointments to clarify the doctor you will be seeing. Not only will it save you a headache, your lungs will thank you as well!
My former doctor back in Southern California used to say all the time that he knew my lungs better than anyone on the planet as he had been my doctor for 25 years. Fingers crossed that my new medical team here in the Midwest will soon be able to say the same!
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