Transitioning from Pediatric to Adult Care: Chronic Conditions

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Finding a new healthcare provider is never an easy decision, and it can be intimidating for adolescents as they transition from a pediatric provider to an adult physician. It can be even more difficult for teenagers or young adults with chronic conditions such as diabetes, sickle cell, juvenile arthritis or others to find a new provider that will accept them as a patient.

For most young patients with a chronic condition, they’re used to seeing a pediatric specialist instead of a primary care provider. Their specialist often becomes their medical care home or a one-stop-shop for care. When children transition to adult care the roles reverse; the primary care provider becomes their main point of care and they’ll see a specialist only periodically or as needed. This may also be the first time that an adolescent has been responsible for their own medical decisions, and managing their own care or advocating for their needs can be intimidating and difficult.

To help make transitioning smoother, it is common in Pediatric Specialty Practices to have case workers or other staff that start the process of transition early. This gives patients time to adjust, look for a new provider, and some practices even let you try out a new provider before fully switching. For patients with chronic illnesses, understanding insurance or applying for what they need can also be tricky. Fortunately, Cone Health and community-based organizations, including the Partnership for Community Care and Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency. These Triad organizations are designed to help residents of the community achieve better health care outcomes and increase their access to the care they need. To learn more, visit their website.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Michelle Matthews is a board-certified internal medicine specialist at Cone Health Sickle Cell Center and Internal Medicine. Dr. Matthews received a Doctor of Medicine from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1998. She completed her residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at Detroit Medical Center in 2002. Dr. Matthews is a member of the Sickle Cell Area Provider Network.