Making Your Healthcare Team Work For You!

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.

Comments

View Comments (10)
  • KellyPrice
    8 months ago

    I see two amazing Rhumatologists at Arthritis NW, in Spokane, WA. Thanks to these two great Rhumatologists, I am not in a wheelchair, but can walk, ( with pain) but, I’m doing everything I can for my PSA. My Rhumatologists are the only reason why I can function at all.

  • ginas
    9 months ago

    My husband is waiting on many blood test for PsA. Rumatoigist thins he may have it just by looking at his spine MRI. He has had a mild case of Psoriasis since 12 years od. His father’s was severe and our daughter’s is even milder. Only flares when she is under stress around her elbows and knees (35 years old). If he has it definitively (still in AM and is currently doing PT and stimulation pads. My question is…. are there any SAFE biologics? His RA factor is zero even though his sister has RA (may be related to 9/11) From my research, they all have side effects worse than just living with PsA.

  • CathyD moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi @ginas, thank you for your comment. I imagine this is a difficult time for you and your husband. We’re always here if you have questions or need support.

    There are risks and potential side effects that come with the use of biologic medications. We have some more information on this within this article: https://psoriatic-arthritis.com/medications/biologics-how-well-works-side-effects/

    One thing to bear in mind is that not everyone will experiences these issues – the companies do have to declare any possible side effect/risk of their medication. For some people these do seem to be worse than their PsA, whilst for others a biologic will significantly improve their quality of life. I think quality of life is important to take into account when making these decisions.

    The other issue is that psoriatic arthritis can cause progressive and irreversible joint damage, so sometimes doctors and patients wish to treat before this happens, as a preventative measure. We have some information on psoriatic arthritis as a progressive disease here: https://psoriatic-arthritis.com/psa-affects-health/progressive-disease/ However, not everyone will progress to joint damage, so I can certainly understand and empathise with the difficulty of this decision. Have you and your husband been able to talk this over with his rheumatologist?

    – Catherine, Community Moderator

  • Koffegurl
    2 years ago

    Hello, I’ve just joined and am happy to have found you. My care team consists of, Primary Care, Rheumatologist, Physiatrist, Orthopedic Surgeon, Neurosurgeon, Endochronologist, Neurologist, Pain Management, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, and starting in June, a Social Worker. I have a phenomenal care team and since they are all with Regional Health they all have access to my EMR! I don’t have to lug records back and forth.

  • Casey moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Koffegurl!

    So glad you’ve found us. We’re grateful to have you here! You healthcare team and system sound amazing, yay!! Please continue to keep us updated!

    Best, Casey (Psoriatic-Arthritis.com Team)

  • scott
    2 years ago

    Just recently been diagnosed with psa. did a lot of research and speaking with different medical professionals. “western medicine” doctors say taking the medications with potential serious side effects is the only way to treat. others I’ve talked to said it can be managed with supplements, diet, exercise. an acupuncturist said she can treat it. If anyone has chosen the later and has had success, your advise and methods would be appreciated

  • Koffegurl
    2 years ago

    Hi Scott. First of all, I hope you’re getting some relief. Next, although alternative treatments may make your symptoms better, there is usually ongoing internal progression of thus disease, such as joint and tendon damage, heart or lung disease, Type ll diabetes, and others. Be really careful, because there are so many “get cured” schemes out there. I find personally that an over abundance of sugar wreaks havoc with me. You want as little progression as possible. I was diagnosed with PsA 35 years ago, so I’ve a little experience under my belt. Best wishes.

  • Casey moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Scott!

    First of all, I’m so sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis. I’m sure this must be a challenging and confusing time for you. While we can’t give specific medical or treatment advice over the internet (for your safety!), we do recommend talking with your healthcare provider (or multiple different providers–it’s never a bad idea to get a second, or third, or even fourth opinion!!) to find out the specifics on your situation. Everyone responds to treatments differently, and your healthcare team can be a great asset as far as predicting what may provide you relief. Here is an article that may be of interest to you about treatments, https://psoriatic-arthritis.com/treatment/

    Since you mentioned potentially looking into natural treatments, I also found these links that you may be interested in, https://psoriatic-arthritis.com/treatment/complementary-alternative-therapy/ and https://psoriatic-arthritis.com/treatment/physical-therapy-exercise/ While others in the community may be able to provide personal experiences and opinions on different treatment options, it’s important for us to note that everyone can have various different responses to the same medications or natural therapies!

    If you do get to talk to your healthcare provider or other health expert on your team about your specific situation in the near future, please let us know what they say! We’re here for you, and grateful to have you in our community!!

    Best wishes,

    Casey, Psoriatic-Arthritis.com Team

  • MargotP
    2 years ago

    Helpful!

  • Rebecca moderator
    2 years ago

    Glad to hear that, MargotP!

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