What can I expect when transitioning from pediatric care to adult doctors?
A Potential Transition Period
If doctors at your current hospital, like a children’s hospital, are assisting you in developing a care plan with an adult doctor’s practice/facility, take this assistance/these recommendations. It can be difficult to transition on your own as not all doctors take every insurance plan and some practices only take a certain number of Medicaid patients. Also you may need a referral to transfer into the adult practice and not all family care physicians have the connections to get you into some clinics. Take the advice and guidance as you are not the first pediatric patient to age out of pediatric care. Having an established doctor is best for you and it is not beneficial to be without a care team.
A part of transitioning from pediatric to adult healthcare typically includes seeing new doctors. This means you will probably have to establish new relationships and a new rapport, as well as answer questions that you have probably had to answer before.
There are also many uncertainties that may arise. This may come from leaving a doctor that you have been comfortable with for all of your life and then having to share vulnerable information with a new doctor that you have probably never met with before. This uncertainty is okay. Remember that your new doctor is a professional and should have your care in their best interest. However, it is also okay to find someone else to continue your care if you find that you are not comfortable with your new doctor or the clinic’s environment.
A new location may be the result of transitioning from pediatric to adult care. With new locations come new considerations, such as directions, parking, onsite navigation, and paperwork.
Make sure that you have directions to your new location so as to arrive on time and locate the correct building when at a multi-building campus. When it comes to parking, make sure you know if there is a fee or if the campus will validate parking. You will also need to know where to go in order to receive such validation. Also be aware that for larger campuses, there may be more than one parking lot or garage, so know in which you should park.
Knowing the floor and section of the building that your doctor is located in is just as important. Elevators can lead to different sections of hospitals that are not connected to your doctor’s office. If you do not know the location of your doctor, the main floor lobby is the best place to go in order to receive that information. The front desk receptionist is the best resource for guiding you to your appointment.
For the first visit, initial paperwork may need to be filled out. This paperwork may be provided to you ahead of time but if it is not, you may be asked to arrive early to your first visit. Usually, office personnel will tell you whether or not you need to arrive early to your appointment.
Coordination and Communication Facilitation
When transitioning to adult healthcare, more coordination and communication facilitation is required by you between all of your doctors in order to ensure you are receiving proper care. In many pediatric care teams, the doctors often will discuss your case amongst themselves to make sure you are receiving the best care possible. However, as an adult, not as many healthcare teams coordinate and communicate with one another. This means you are responsible for being the liaison between all of your doctors in order to receive the best care possible. Some tips include sending all doctors’ notes and records to your other doctors, taking notes at your appointments and sharing those notes with other care providers, as well as giving permission to doctors, even when located in different facilities, to communicate with one another.
Many times in pediatric care, you have several appointments in one day that are all coordinated for you. This is typically not the case when you are an adult; you will have to schedule your appointments and you may have to even see doctors at different locations on different days. Many adult specialists only have clinic visits on certain days of the week as they may also be a surgeon and/or professor and split their time between professions. It is common to not be able to schedule appointments on the same day as multiple specialists may not share the same clinical schedule.
Responsible for Your own Healthcare
In Washington State, any person age 13 or older has the right to manage their own healthcare and must sign a consent form in order for a parent/guardian to attain any medical records or information. This also applies when transitioning to adult doctors as well.
Every patient has the legal right to doctor-patient confidentiality. As an adult interacting with doctors, it is important to remember that due to confidentiality your information cannot be shared without your consent. This is beneficial in that you can trust your doctor not to share your personal information, but this also leaves you with the responsibility of making sure that you can advocate for yourself and have the right people access your pertinent information.