One of the first steps in managing your psoriatic arthritis is assembling the best healthcare team. This journey might have started while you were trying to navigate the perilous waters of getting diagnosed with PsA! Yet, having a bunch of healthcare providers by default is not the same as putting together a team that you respect and is responsive to your needs. Having a team of healthcare providers that understands and listens to you can make a world of difference as you approach treatment options.
Start with questions
When you are searching for and selecting members of your healthcare team, remember that your doctor works for you! It is important to find someone you feel comfortable with and that listens to your questions and concerns and treats you with respect. If you don’t think your doctor is responsive to your concerns, you can fire your doctor by finding another one!
There are questions that you can ask of the doctor’s staff prior to scheduling your first appointment that may help you make a decision. Approach this the same way you might approach hiring an employee or hiring someone to work on your home. Think of how you are “interviewing” them to find out if you want to “hire” them as your doctor.
- Find out up front if they have appointment times that work for your schedule.
- Ask their front desk staff about how long it usually takes to get an appointment and what policies they have for rescheduling or fees for missed appointments.
- If you were to have an emergent situation in the future, how long does it usually take to get an appointment?
- Does the office have walk-in hours?
- Will they call in prescription refills for you, or do they use an electronic prescription service?
- Ask how they coordinate your care with other doctors you may be seeing.
Think about if there are any other questions that you have. Is there any other information that is important to you, or anything about your care or treatment options that you want to ask about? It is always a good idea to write these down in advance of your appointment so that you don’t forget them for your first visit.
Tips for dealing with a team of healthcare providers
Living with psoriatic arthritis can have a huge impact on your life, both physically and emotionally. It is important for you to have a team of healthcare providers that are working together to ensure that you get the best possible course of treatment for your condition as well as any other health conditions or treatment complications you may have. You have a role in coordinating your care as well and can help by keeping all members of your healthcare team informed and on the same page. Tips for doing this include:
- Getting your own copies of all your test and lab results that you can share with different healthcare providers directly (you can’t always trust them to communicate well with each other even though it is their job!)
- Taking notes and keeping records about all of your treatments in a notebook or computer that you can bring to each appointment
- Letting all of your healthcare providers know if your condition has gotten worse or better, or if your treatment regimen has changed.
- Be sure to tell your healthcare providers about any change in symptoms you are experiencing, even ones that you think are not related to your PsA or psoriasis. For example, many people with PsA experience vision problems but do not know that inflammation of the eyes is a common problem among people with PsA.
- Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about any alternative or complementary therapeutic approaches you may be using as some can affect how much medication you may need or how your medications work.
Let us know in comments who is on your healthcare team and how they impact your decisions about your treatment options.