Your Doctors Need to Talk to Each Other About Your Care

Your Doctors Need to Talk to Each Other About Your Care

Your Doctors Need to Talk to Each Other About Your Care

You and your primary care physician (PCP) work together to make sure you are in the best health possible for you. It’s a two-way street. Your doctor uses training and know-how to guide you. But to provide the best guidance, your doctor needs you to share all the details about your health.

When you go to your PCP for care, share details about your:

  • Past health care
  • Family health history
  • Habits as they relate to your health

Being honest helps build a relationship that can help you be your healthiest self. How well you and your doctor talk with each other is one of the most vital parts of getting good health care, says the National Institutes of Healthleaving site icon

One important thing to share with your PCP is information about any care you’ve had with another health care provider. And give your PCP and other providers permission to speak to each other directly. That way they can share information about your care and progress. You’ll need to sign a “release of information” form with each provider to allow them to share information with each other. You fill in who is allowed to receive your information, so you can add each provider’s name.

Coordinating Mental Health Care

If you’ve had a behavioral/mental health issue, your care may have started with your primary doctor. Family physicians are one of the primary sources for mental health care for many people, says the American Association of Family Physiciansleaving site icon

If you’re also going to a mental health provider for care, be sure to fill your PCP in on the details. Primary care and mental health care providers work together to treat their patients. Remember to sign the release form that allows them to share information.

If you are being treated for both physical and mental health issues, be sure all your doctors know this. One health concern can affect another. That means a mental health symptom may make it hard to know that you have a physical problem. And some medicines used for mental health issues can affect you physically. To keep you safe and healthy, your doctors all need to know what you’re taking, says the University of Michigan Medicineleaving site icon

Your PCP Takes the Lead

Your mental health provider is a vital part of your primary care team. But even when you’re seeing another doctor, your PCP remains your overall care manager. Because your PCP knows about all of your physical and mental health history and concerns, your PCP is in the best position to coordinate your care. 

Your PCP will support you and your mental health care provider’s treatment plan. So be sure to tell your PCP about your mental health treatment, and remember:

  • Don't be afraid to bring up any concerns about your diagnosis, even it isn't very comfortable.
  • Your PCP is there to be your advocate. Your PCP can help your behavioral health doctor with managing your care.
Sources: Talking with Your Doctor, leaving site icon National Institutes of Health, 2021; Mental Health Care Services by Family Physicians, leaving site icon American Association of Family Physicians; Working with More than One Doctor, leaving site icon University of Michigan Medicine, 2020
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