MS is a life-long disease, which makes it critical for you to feel comfortable with your MS healthcare providers and work in partnership with them. When searching for an MS provider, it's important to know some of the credentials and understand the roles of the comprehensive care team members. To learn more, visit developing a healthcare team.
While you're researching providers, think about what's important to you and consider the following:
- How long has the provider been treating MS?
- Do they have specialized training in MS?
- Do they also participate in MS research?
- Does the provider take your insurance?
- How far is the provider from your home or work?
You may not be able to find all the information you need to select a healthcare provider other than by calling. In addition to the questions above, you might also want to ask:
- What percentage of this provider’s time is spent seeing patients with MS compared to patients with other conditions?
- If you need a referral for other services, for example, care for bladder infections, help with emotional challenges, or a driving evaluation, can this provider refer you to others with the appropriate expertise?
- Is there someone on staff, perhaps a nurse, who can help coordinate your care, such as referrals to other providers, orders for lab work or MRIs, and communicating the results back to you?
- Is the office accessible?
- Are there opportunities to participate in MS research?
- What do you need to bring or send in prior to the first appointment? For example, a list of medications, recent lab reports, MRI scans.
During your first visit
These indicators may help you decide if the provider is a good fit:
- If you brought someone with you, does the provider welcome your companion(s)?
- What happens when you ask for an explanation of a medical term or an unfamiliar concept?
- Does the provider involve you in the decisions about your care, like which medication you will use?
- Does the provider allow you to record, take notes or give you a written summary of your visit?
- Do you feel comfortable with this provider?
You may want to ask:
- If your provider is not available, who helps with urgent matters like new symptoms?
- Will you see that same provider for follow-up visits or will you see someone else in the practice, like the nurse practitioner or physician assistant?
- What are the provider’s feelings about lifestyle choices, like diet and exercise?