When Your Pediatrician Changes Practices
Here are some helpful things to know when your pediatrician changes practices.
As a pediatric surgeon, it is common to be asked for medical advice. Recently, however, another question has become much more common: “My pediatrician has changed practices. Should I stay or go?”
There is a lot of news these days about physicians changing from Atrium to Novant, Novant to Atrium or from either system to an independent practice, and vice versa. Although these changes can be confusing, remember that ultimately this is a good thing. In Charlotte, we are lucky to have two excellent hospital systems and many independent practices that provide options for doctors to practice. This choice often works to patient advantage as well if you want to change, or if you need to change because you moved or switched insurance carriers.
To answer the original question, if you really love your doctor then stick with him or her. You DO NOT have stay with the health system or practice with which your doctor was formally affiliated, even if that system or practice implies that you do. However, understand that changing practices to follow your doctor can present challenges you might not have thought of, especially if you’ve been with your doctor for a while.
If you do decide to follow your doctor and change practices, keep the following in mind:
- Be sure your doctor remains in-network with your insurance plan, especially if you’re from out of state, as some plans have a very narrow pool of providers. In order to verify in-network status, call the new practice and give them the exact name of the provider and type of policy.
- Your child will be a new patient to the practice regardless of how well your doctor knows him or her. You will need to fill out all the requisite paperwork and register on the practice’s preferred patient portal. If the new office does not have access to the old practice’s medical records, you will have to provide a release so they can obtain that information.
- The office and nursing staff do not always follow the doctor, and these people can be very important to your family’s care! At Pediatric Surgical Associates, we put great emphasis on prompt and expert service provided by our staff. Often they are the primary contacts with patients. Make sure you are comfortable with the office staff of your doctor’s new practice; bad service might be a deal-breaker. If you do receive inadequate service, make sure your doctor is aware.
Whether you decide to stay with your doctor, or with his or her old practice instead, remember that it is YOUR RIGHT AS A PARENT to make that decision. Many parents have come up to me and said they’ve felt pressure to stay with a practice when their pediatrician has left. Unfortunately, it is standard practice to not even tell parents where the old pediatrician has gone. Be persistent if you want to stick with your same doctor. On the other hand, if you feel most comfortable staying with a particular practice and its staff regardless of where your doctor goes, then that decision should be respected as well.
When it comes time to choosing the right pediatrician, my advice is to ask questions, take notes and get a second opinion if you need one. Read more tips in this blog post I wrote a few years ago.
Remember that your child gets your best every day, and your child deserves the best of your physician and your practice, too.
Dr. Andrew Schulman is a board-certified Pediatric Surgeon with Pediatric Surgical Associates in Charlotte. For more information on keeping your child safe and well, visit pedsurgical.com.