Megan Weigel , Nurse Practitioner
31 Jan 2023 | ~4:10 Engagement Time
We need and want a lot from our healthcare providers. Expertise, a great “bedside manner,” responsiveness, a friendly office staff, convenience, and accessibility in the parking lot, office, and bathroom are all important. But each of us has different priorities – so figuring out what matters most to you will make it easier to find the provider you need.
What is comprehensive MS care?
Comprehensive MS Care is the gold standard. Check out this Can Do article about comprehensive care and how to assemble your team. In short, MS care is comprehensive when it is delivered by a coordinated team of MS experts who ensure that all aspects of your care, including diagnosis, disease, symptom and relapse management, rehabilitation, and emotional support are available to you. This may occur in one location or in several, coordinated locations.
Unfortunately, this kind of care tends to be primarily available in urban areas. People with MS living in more rural areas usually have to build their own teams. In addition, not all providers accept all types of insurance.
Who provides high-quality MS care?
Specialized MS care is typically provided by a neurologist, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant, either in a comprehensive center, academic medical center, or in private practice. MS specialists have advanced training, and usually certification, in MS.
Because of their focus on treating MS patients, these specialists are more knowledgeable about the current MS research and the available treatments. They also tend to have a network of other specialists (e.g., urologists, gastroenterologists, rehabilitation professionals, and mental health professionals with whom they collaborate.
What are your needs and priorities?
While you might not find everything you are looking for with a provider, it’s helpful to ask yourself if your primary needs are being met. These are some questions to think about:
When should I look for a different provider?
If the answer to some or all of these questions is “no,” it is probably time to look for solutions.
How can I ensure continuity of my care?
If you decide to look for a new provider, don’t let your MS care lapse in the meantime. If you secure an appointment that is several months off (getting in as a new patient is often difficult these days), make sure you keep scheduled appointments with your current provider so your lab work, MRI scans, and prescriptions continue while you wait.
It’s easier to invest in care for yourself when you feel that your needs are being met. You invest a lot in your MS care, emotionally and financially, and it is your right to be comfortable with your MS care team!