And once you get there, you spend some time finding the nearest grocery stores, checking out local attractions, and settling in to work or school. With all this busyness, many people forget to begin the search for new medical care.
Whether you need consistent physical therapy or routine dental exams twice a year, the best time to look for your new primary care doctor, dentist, pharmacy, medical specialist, hospital, urgent care, physical therapist, or mental health professional is before you need to make an appointment with them.
Experts often call this network of health care providers your “medical home.” In this blog, we’ll give you five tips to simplify your search for a new medical home that’s right for you and your family.
1. List Your Medical Needs
As soon as you know you plan to move, take a moment to list each of your family members’ medical needs. Include each child separately and don’t forget about your pets. The needs of each member dictate what kind of health care professionals you need to look for.
Here are some examples:
- Family member has good overall health and no special requirements. Find this person a primary care doctor and a dentist for checkups, vaccinations, and other routine medical visits.
- Family member has a diagnosed chronic condition which requires professional oversight. In addition to a primary care provider, get in touch with local specialists, outpatient centers, or physical therapists as required by the individual’s condition.
- Family member has a mental health condition which requires prescription medication. This individual will need to work with a primary care doctor and mental health professional to create and maintain the right medication balance.
It’s okay if you forget a small medical need on this list. When you first visit a primary care doctor, he or she can help you determine whether or not you need to add any experts to your medical home network.
2. Start Early
Ideally, you want to start this search early enough that your current doctor can collaborate with your new doctor before you transfer your records. This cooperation simplifies the process of becoming a new patient and getting to know your new doctor.
However, this collaboration usually requires that you go to your new doctor’s office before your move. Whether or not you can make that trip, notify your current doctor about your move (as we’ll discuss in the next section).
3. Notify Your Current Doctor
As soon as you know you plan to move, notify your health care providers. It can take time to collect patient records, transfer prescriptions, and update all billing.
If you can notify your doctor early, you avoid any unexpected bills, complex prescription-transfer processes, or record mix-ups in your new medical home.
4. Work with Your Insurance Company
You are also obligated to notify your insurance company when you know change is coming. This allows your insurer to adjust your policy based on where you plan to move and which doctors you intend to see.
Your insurer may also help you find your new medical home. Many insurance companies have online resources that allow you to search for physicians of every kind covered by your policy. Better yet, these databases often include ratings and reviews from patients with your same insurance coverage, which can help you narrow down your options.
5. Use Local Resources
If you reach this tip and still don’t know the bearings of your new medical home, it’s time to turn to local resources. These may include any or all of the following:
- Databases provided by local hospitals or hospital networks
- Family members or neighbors in the area with similar medical needs
- Locally run find-a-doctor services (often provided by a local hospital)
- Recommendations from a medical professional in the area
- Urgent care or outpatient facilities connected to a doctor’s office
These resources obviously vary according to where you move, but they often prove most valuable. If you count yourself as a member of any specific organizations, whether they be student service groups or church congregations, use those resources in addition to the ones listed above.
Many metropolitan areas offer services to help you in this search. If you have a local hospital with outpatient facilities, ask the staff there about the easiest way to find the first medical professional on your list. From there, you can begin to build your network.
Take care of your whole body health, starting with these tips.
To learn more about simplifying moves of all sizes, to or from any destination, browse our extensive blog section and check back frequently for new posts.