Transitioning to an Adult GI Provider
As a teenager, you will be expected to begin taking more and more responsibility for your own care over time. You will be expected to move away from depending on your parents and caregivers to handle your health issues and towards independently managing your disease.
As a patient, you should learn as much as you can about your condition and health care needs. You should try to do as much as you can to manage your disease on your own and actively participate in your health care. The doctors and nurses who provide your care should partner with you in this process. It is important to communicate with your doctor about your concerns and readiness to transition.
Transition is a process and not a single point in time.
Differences between Pediatric and Adult Practices
While pediatric practices are family focused, adult practices focus more on the individual. Often, parents play a greater role in the pediatric world and influence medical decisions. In addition, the environment in pediatrics is usually more nurturing and multidisciplinary. Adult practices assume the patient is knowledgeable, independent, and autonomous.
Recommendations for transition
The process of transition should begin in early to mid-adolescence. It is helpful to begin seeing your pediatric provider without your parents during adolescence to gain comfort and independence. It is also important to identify adult gastroenterologists knowledgeable and comfortable in caring for young adults with IBD.
Begin understanding your disease, your medication and the various tests that may be ordered or performed. You should be able to make appointments on your own, call in your prescriptions, know when to call or see your doctor and know your insurance provider. Also you should understand the impact of lifestyle decisions on your well-being. This can all be discussed with your provider.
The following is a checklist of tasks recommended based on age. (link to PDF and Tasks)
- Between ages 11-13: know your condition, know your medication, know the impact of the disease
- Between ages 14-16: know your medical team, know the various tests, know about support groups, understand risks of not taking medication, understand risks of lifestyle decisions
- Between ages 17-19: know how to find information, book appointment on own, fill prescription on own, contact medical team on own, know insurance information
- Between ages 20-23: identify and adult gastroenterologist, schedule initial visit with adult provider
Below are some ideas for helping you manage your healthcare.
The Doc4me app
The Doc4me app helps adolescents and young adults with inflammatory bowel disease find a doctor who treats adults with inflammatory bowel disease in a specific area. Doc4me also helps young people get ready and prepare for their medical visit with their new doctor.
Download the free Doc4me app in the Apple or Google Play stores.
Find a doctor in your area
You can easily find adult inflammatory bowel disease doctors in a specific city or ZIP code. The Doc4me app shows you all information for that doctor, including contact information, phone number, website, languages spoken by the doctor and which insurances are covered. You can even bookmark doctors for later reference.
One tap of a button shows the route on a map to the doctor’s address.
Doc4me also helps you get ready for doctors’ appointments with an appointment preparation checklist. Doc4me also lets you mark your doctor’s appointments in your calendar and receive reminders for your doctor’s appointments.
Doc4me’s Transition Checklist reminds you of all the things you need to do to prepare for your transfer from pediatric to adult healthcare. Once completed, you can print a Medical Information Worksheet that will help you answer questions that your new doctor will ask you.
Information and References
Doc4me also provides links to reliable information about living with inflammatory bowel disease, medications, and nutrition.
Doc4me is a perfect companion for your transition. Download it today!