Should I switch Dr.s? (oncologists)

Old 12-01-2016, 12:32 PM
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Default Should I switch Dr.s? (oncologists)


Man this is a tough one for me.

As of new year's we are switching our health insurance company (by choice).

Let me give some basic facts:

There is a newly constructed hospital 0.6 miles from the gate to our neighborhood. This hospital was not included in our previous insurance plan.

I had cancer in 2015 (a few surgeries, chemo etc) and had to drive an hour each way to the oncologist, radiology, surgeries, etc. I'm happy with the treatment I rec'd and the physicians that I used.

I made a LOT of trips back and forth to say the least. We have never driven so much in our lives, it was a burden (esp when you are quite nauseous).

Now, under our new insurance plan my previous oncologists/hospital etc are included AS WELL as the hospital literally right next to my house.

If you were me would you switch providers?

I go for CT scans 3 times a year fwiw.

I like my oncologist, and trust him, but if I can do the monitoring part (ct scans) closer to home that would be convenient as hell. I don't know what I would do in the event the bad stuff comes back - hopefully I never have to cross that bridge.

The part that bugs me is even if I "remain loyal" to my Dr.'s an hour away there is no guarantee plans/facilities won't change anyway.

I appreciate your thoughts/advice esp if you've been down this road.


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Old 12-01-2016, 01:02 PM
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First off, congratulations on your successful treatment and continued good health! It's certainly not an easy road to travel.

Based on my own experiences, you probably wouldn't have to change oncologists in order to use your local hospital for your CT scans. Your CT Scan is digitized and can travel to your favorite doc to read. And most docs would be very sympathetic to your comfort as part of your continuing care. Your scans go to your doc's in-box, get read and he gives you a call with the analysis.

The imaging group in hospitals is a separate specialty than oncology so all your doc has to do is write the referral to the appropriate local hospital department. Also, check with your health care insurance provider to absolutely, without doubt, concur with your arrangements. If there's a place where your needs could be screwed up, that's where it would happen.

As for me, I travel a short distance up to Boston and get my scans done at my doc's hospital because he can read them the same morning I have them done. If I needed to, I could get scanned down the street from my house and Doc would call me up with the analysis when they come to his in-box. In normal maintenance periods, a day or two delay in my doc getting the scans isn't a big deal so local scans are always an option if I don't want to travel to Boston.

And looking forward, in time you won't need such intensive post-treatment and survey so the number of trips will be reduced and your health/comfort level will increase.

Good luck brother! Fight the good fight!
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Old 12-01-2016, 01:30 PM
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Been there myself. Unless your plan forbids it why not form your own "care team" and have two onco's... they probably know each other and share patients in common anyway.

Do the frequent, monitoring stuff with the new guy close to home and consult the guy you know and love an hour away as needed.

If, God forbid, you need any chemo or radiation in the future that requires going every day do it close to home under orders of whichever doc orders it. I had a month of high dose outpatient chemo at a hospital 5 minutes from my house - but my doctor was across town and not even affiliated with that hospital. Happens all the time.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Move on!
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Old 12-01-2016, 01:33 PM
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I'm glad you're doing well. Why not have this conversation with your existing oncologist. I would bet he agrees with you seeing the closer one for routine monitoring.
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Old 12-01-2016, 02:45 PM
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My mom flies up from Florida twice a year post cancer treatment at MA general. They wanted to see her and have the tests and scans done at MA general. I think part of it is the scanning equipment used and how the scans are administered. I'm sure part of it is economics. But having been to some of here visits her DR is very interested in her well being, asks lots of questions and addresses her concerns if there are any.

This being said, MG is one of the best cancer treatment hospitals in the country and they also had one of the top surgeons (urologist) to remove her kidney so we, her family, more or less mandated it. If quality of care is equivalent then I would probably look for convenience.

If you like and trust your Dr. I would weigh what he suggests heavily.
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Old 12-01-2016, 03:32 PM
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Glad you're hanging tough.

No reason you can't do imaging somewhere and have your doctor somewhere else. Imaging can be done at other hospital systems, 3rd party imaging companies, etc. the interpretation is what matters but some places will reinterpret outside imaging. Mayo has done that for me a few times. There are also places online you can get imaging second opinions from well known US hospital systems, educational facilities and top notch doctors from around the world if you really have a concern about the interpretation.

I just got a call today "where would you like your PET scan" and about 30 min later from the nurse who said their radiology dept would call to schedule it at my choice of facility.

All day long I would do imaging nearby and pick the best doc I could to treat me wherever that was.
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Old 12-01-2016, 05:07 PM
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I would explore the option of ct scans close to the house while keeping your existing doc. My wife has to have an annual surgical biopsy for a situation that could easily turn cancerous. We live 3 hours from her primary care dr., but do all of the preoperative stuff locally, and also have a dr. locally that is a former student of her primary for emergencies. This works VERY well for us.
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Old 12-01-2016, 05:10 PM
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Can you swap Drs and have your old one still in the loop reviewing results ETC?
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Old 12-02-2016, 04:33 AM
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Originally Posted by bluffman2 View Post
Can you swap Drs and have your old one still in the loop reviewing results ETC?
Yep. As long as you pay her/him.

We changed providers and networks but I kept my Family M.D. I see him twice a year and pay in cash. If I need something done, or some more meds (no, not those kind), he simply writes the orders/scripts and I get the work done in network. All test results get sent to him.

Rob - you should have no problem getting tests/imaging done closer to home, yet retain your current Oncologist. If you have that much faith in this Dr., then there is no reason to change. You can make the 1 hour drive once or twice a year.

Big Al
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