Switching Primary Care Providers: Everything You Need to Know

Carbon Health Editorial Team
February 15, 2022
5 mins

A good primary care provider is an active partner in your health: they should help you define and reach your wellness goals, suggest screenings and preventive measures based on your individual risk factors, answer all your questions, and follow up with you after appointments to see how, for instance, recommended lifestyle changes or new medications are working for you. 

Having a consistent and compassionate provider in your corner is key to preventing future health issues and accomplishing your wellness goals. But sometimes life circumstances — such as a move, a change in your insurance, or a change in your healthcare needs and goals — require switching things up and finding a new partner on your health journey.

But don’t worry — the right provider for you is out there, and we’re here to walk you through some steps to a successful transition.

Consider What You Want Out of the Relationship

When you’re ready to establish a relationship with a new primary care provider, consider what you want and need out of the relationship. Would you prefer someone who is your gender? Do you want a seasoned vet or a younger provider? These are all valid questions to ask yourself while looking for a provider match.

One way to get a feel for a provider before your appointment is to do some research on your own. Take a minute to read the various bios for providers available at clinics in your area and pick one whose overall philosophies and credentials match what you’re looking for. You can search for a provider’s rating online and read other patients’ experiences. Reach out to people you trust — friends, family, and neighbors — for recommendations. Their insights and referrals can also be greatly beneficial as you continue your search.

Make Sure to Transfer All Your Medical Records and Important Documents

Your medical records offer your new provider valuable insight into your health history. Reach out to your previous provider before your appointment, for paper or electronic copies of your records, lab results, and any other pertinent information. They can either send the documents to you or send them to your new clinic directly. Don’t stress about getting all your records dating back to childhood; most providers are interested in big health events in your life (surgeries, pregnancies, allergies, a history of cancer, consistent medications, and so on).

The first time you see a new healthcare provider, they will ask you about your medical history — including past operations, illnesses, and other issues. It can be difficult to remember everything on the spot, so it might be helpful to write out a list or a timeline.

It’s also important to tell your new provider about all medications and supplements you are currently taking, so they can avoid prescribing something that might negatively interact with one of them. (And remember, always talk to your provider before adding a vitamin or other supplement to your daily routine.)

(Getting ready for a visit to a new healthcare provider? Read “Taking Charge of Your Health: How to Prepare for a Routine Checkup.”)

Check in Before Your Appointment

Once you’ve set up an appointment, check in with your provider’s office a few days beforehand to see what’s planned for your visit. This is a great time to ask what insurance documents you might need to bring with you and whether you need to bring any other documents. You may be able to supply some information over the phone, to save time at the provider’s office. 

Pay Attention to Your Daily Habits‍

What do you typically eat in a day? How many times a week do you exercise, and for how long? How many alcoholic beverages are you drinking per week? How are you sleeping? How are your mood, your libido, and your appetite? Your healthcare provider will want to know the answers to these questions and more. It might be helpful to keep a “health journal” for several days before your appointment, so you have an accurate picture of your daily routine. And remember — a doctor’s office is a judgment-free zone, so do be honest!

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Communication and Comfort Are Key

When it comes to your health, no question should feel too small, too awkward, or too weird to bring up with your provider. If you do feel uncomfortable or judged during your conversation, then it’s probably time to look for a different provider. Having open lines of communication is crucial to making sure all of your health and wellness needs are being met. Carbon Health medical professionals offer inclusive, judgment-free care and are always available to talk and to support you in reaching your health goals.

A True Partner on Your Health Journey

After you’ve established a relationship with a healthcare provider, you should feel that you have an active partner supporting you in your efforts to feel better and live healthier — one who takes a holistic approach, not only addressing acute conditions as they arise but also helping you navigate other aspects of wellness, such as nutrition, fitness, sexual health, and mental health.

Primary care providers who listen, who follow up after your appointments, and who bring compassion to their work every day — that’s the Carbon Health difference. Find a provider near you, via carbonhealth.com or the Carbon Health app, and start making strides toward your health goals!


Carbon Health Editorial Team

The Carbon Health Editorial Team is a group of writers, content creators, and thought leaders who are here to empower you to take charge of your health.