Returning to the Right Kind of Care
Returning to in-person appointments and standard diabetes care can sometimes mean switching your healthcare team to better suit your needs. Here are tips for understanding when you may need to change your healthcare provider and how to navigate this process while returning to care.
Did you change your diabetes care or medications during the pandemic? It may be time to rebuild your medical team to gain more control of your blood glucose levels.
COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on people with diabetes and the care they receive, preventing many from seeing their healthcare providers as regularly as they should (if at all). As people have begun returning to their healthcare providers’ offices for in-person appointments – or returning to appointments in general if routine visits were unavailable during COVID – many have realized how important it is to have a healthcare team that best suits their needs.
This sometimes means changing your healthcare provider if your current one is not able to give you the attention and care you deserve. That’s not to say that healthcare providers aren’t extremely busy – many are doing everything they can to give the highest quality care to the people they treat – but if for some reason you are not feeling heard, it may be time to switch.
The impact of COVID on diabetes care
The COVID-19 pandemic had a tremendous impact on healthcare systems as a whole. Other than emergencies, many people halted in-person visits and treatments. While telemedicine quickly expanded to address this issue, barriers such as not having access to the internet or a lack of insurance coverage sometimes prevented people from accessing telehealth.
This was especially true for people with diabetes. According to a systematic review in Primary Care Diabetes, when compared to interventions for other diseases, diabetes care was among the most significantly impacted by the reduction in healthcare resources due to COVID-19. Also, the review showed that the pandemic changed people with diabetes’ perceptions about in-person care.
If for any reason you stopped your routine healthcare appointments or medications during the pandemic, try to resume them as soon as possible. This can help make sure that you are managing your glucose levels, keeping your A1C low and Time in Range high, and preventing or managing complications.
While this may mean reaching back out to your current healthcare team, we have heard from people in the community who said that the pandemic has encouraged some of them to seek a new healthcare team – one that better suits their needs.
Returning to care and finding the right healthcare team
At the end of the day, the most important member of your healthcare team is you. When considering a change in your healthcare team, it’s important to build a network of providers you can trust, who will support you, and who are willing to work with you to develop a treatment plan that works best.
Some of these team members may include a primary care provider, endocrinologist, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES), and a number of other specialists (such as optometrists, podiatrists, and mental health professionals), depending on your needs.
Kylene Dyana, 41, is the CEO and founder of Black Diabetic Girl and Girl Chat, and co-founder of Dope Diabetic Girls. She has had diabetes for 12 years and currently splits her time between Tulsa and the DMV area. A few years ago she realized her endocrinologist and primary care provider weren’t able to meet her needs so she set out to find a team that better suited her.
“When I was searching for a healthcare team I was looking for professionals who would listen to me, work with me and with all of my other providers in making sure that together, we were getting to the bottom of any health issues that might come up,” she said.
When trying to determine if a healthcare provider is right for you, here are a few things to think about. The best healthcare providers:
Take the time to answer your questions and explain things in simple terms that you can understand.
Understand and can explain the medications you currently take and the devices that you are using.
Can answer your questions or troubleshoot when something is going wrong
Are able to tailor a treatment plan around your preferences.
Do not shame or stigmatize you for having diabetes, having obesity or excess weight, having less-than-perfect test results and glucose levels, or for the choices you make. (To learn more about diabetes stigma, visit dStigmatize.org.)
Don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare providers lots of questions, especially during an initial appointment to find out more about their treatment style and the types of people they normally see in their practice.
Tips for finding a healthcare team that works with you
Talk to other people who have diabetes about healthcare providers they like. Reach out to your local ADA or JDRF chapter to connect with people, or connect with people in the diabetes online community (DOC). Often, people in the community will be the first ones to give you advice on finding a healthcare team.
Talk to your primary care provider or your endocrinologist about diabetes education programs. These programs can help you set your management goals, give you healthy lifestyle tips, and be a support system as you navigate this condition. The American Diabetes Association and Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists have resources to help you locate a CDCES in your area.
Don’t be afraid to see several different health care providers when looking for a new one to find the one who is best for you.
“Finding a healthcare team is like dating, sometimes you have to shop around until you find one that fits your specific needs,” said Dyana. “Just because a friend or family member has a provider that works for them, it doesn't mean that provider will work for you. You have to find the right provider that is a fit for your needs.”