Ever try to schedule an appointment with your favorite Doctor and find out the Doctor’s gone?!
That happened to me recently – I went to go schedule an appointment with one of my favorite Doctors, only to find out that they LEFT! 😱
Doctor’s do go missing – they move to a different practice or sometimes they even quit practicing all together. (This is happening much more frequently as the healthcare system collapses).
If you loved your Doctor, it can be really hard to get the news. I’ve found myself grieving the loss of my Doctor and feeling abandoned even though I know they had no intention to cause me pain.
Doctors who are in group practice are not allowed to share that they are moving practices or starting their own business because their patient list is actually owned by the group practice.
If your Doctor practices on their own, they should tell you about any plans to move, retire, or quit practicing well in advance. They are required to provide Continuity of Care plans to their patients.
In situations where the doctor has died, a group practice will share that information with you and let you know who in the practice is taking over their patients’ care.
For a Solo-Doctor who has died, you may only find out about their passing via a Google search. Oftentimes, practices of deceased Solo-Doctors are closed very quickly and notice of death is not shared with patients who do not have upcoming appointments.
After a lengthy conversation with the receptionist, I got no additional information about where my favorite doctor went. This is typical as healthcare is a business and offices want you to stay with them.
How to Find Your Doctor
I wanted to find my doctor so the National Provider Identifier (NPIs) came to the rescue! Covered healthcare providers (everyone from MDs to physical therapists, to mental health therapists, etc.) are required to have an NPI and even if their name changes or you don’t know the exact spelling of their name, if you have their NPI you can locate them.
I like to save the NPIs of Healthcare Professionals that I like but if you don’t have it, you can still search using their name and other identifying information.
Unfortunately for me, my doctor stopped practicing and I’ve been unable to locate them. Other times, my favorite doctor has moved out-of-state. One of my preferred Doctors died.
If any of these situations happens to you, you have two options.
Doctor’s Gone to Another Practice
In this situation, you’ll want to research and call the new office and find answers to the following questions:
Review the new office’s website.
- Is the office located in a place you’d be willing to commute to?
- Check their office hours, do they work for your schedule?
- If the new place is a group practice, check the profiles of the other doctors – Do you see other doctors you’d be willing to meet with?
- Does the overall vibe of the office website feel comforting to you? Can you see yourself going there and being happy?
- Does the website have insurance information posted – If so, do they take your insurance?
If the answer is no to any of these questions, you’ll want to jump down to the next section and find a new doctor.
Call the new office.
- If the insurance isn’t listed on the website, ask the receptionist if the office takes your insurance.
- Then ask if your former doctor is taking new patients.
- Ask them how you can establish care with the new practice – do you need to schedule a new patient appointment or can you transfer care?
**NOTE** Most offices require you to schedule a New Patient appointment even if you are transferring care. These appointments are longer and can require a long wait before being seen. If you meet with your doctor regularly and you want to transfer care to this new office, make an appointment with them ASAP.
- Ask them about their practice policies (Do they have telehealth appointments? Patient Portal?) and generally how long the waits are for their Doctors (how quickly you can schedule an appointment, how long you need to wait before being seen).
- If you can just transfer care, ask them what forms you need to complete to make that happen. You’ll need to often times complete new patient paperwork and forms to request your records from your old doctor’s office.
Keep in mind that you may love your Doctor but you also have to love the Group Practice if they went to a new one. I’ve found myself many times finding a new Doctor after my Doctor’s gone missing because while I loved them, the practice’s office was terrible.
Doctor’s Gone Out-of-State or is No Longer Practicing
In this situation, you’ll unfortunately need to find a new Doctor. The quickest and easiest option if it was a Group Practice is to just see another Doctor within the group. They will have access to all of your medical records and it’s often very easy to just switch care.
Maybe you don’t like anyone else in the Group Practice or you were seeing a Solo-Doctor. In that case, you’ll need to find a new Doctor all together.
I’ve got a lengthy article that goes over absolutely everything you need to know about how to find a new Primary Care Doctor. Even though the focus is on a Primary Care Doctor, many of the tips listed within that article are relevant for finding any type of new Doctor.
When your Doctor’s gone missing, do you like to follow your Doctor or take their departure as an opportunity to try someone new?
Message me and let me know what you prefer to do.
Need help trying to find your Doctor or a new one? Invest in an Ask an Advocate session where we can find a Doctor that’s right for you.