How to Ask Your Doctor for a Referral?
One of the benefits of a dynamic healthcare system is that if you need specialised care that goes beyond the scope of seeing a family doctor, you can request a referral to see a specialist. If you’ve ever wondered, “how do I ask my doctor for a referral?”, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to how to ask a doctor for a referral and what happens next.
When to See a Specialist
A referral is your doctor’s consent to see a specialist for a health issue that your family doctor can’t assist with. If you need to see a specialist in Canada, your doctor must submit a request to see one first; this prevents specialists from becoming overbooked.
Visiting your family doctor or WalkInVirtualClinics is your first step in addressing your medical needs. Usually, seeing your doctor is enough to resolve your health concerns: for example, your doctor can identify if you have a cold or flu and how to treat it.
However, if the reason for going to the doctor is not as apparent or if you’ve had multiple appointments trying to get to the bottom of your health concern, your doctor will likely refer you to a specialist via a referral.
Steps to Ask Doctor for Referral
If you find yourself in a position where you or your doctor feels it’s time for you to consult a specialist, these are the typical preliminary steps that will take place:
- Your doctor may decide that it’s in your best interest to see a specialist or you may arrive at this conclusion yourself after numerous visits to your doctor regarding the same health concern.
- Your doctor will determine which specialist to refer you to based on your needs, such as a gynaecologist or dermatologist.
- Your family doctor’s office will contact the specialist’s office on your behalf.
- The specialist’s office will contact you directly to schedule your appointment to see the specialist.
- Although provincial health coverage pays the cost of most specialist appointments, they do not cover voluntary (e.g., chiropractic) or cosmetic surgeries or treatments. Extended health plans usually cover voluntary procedures; for example, you may have chiropractic coverage if you have benefits through your employer or university.
This process is designed to ensure those seeing a specialist actually do need one, so that the wait times aren’t too long for those that need care.
Preparing for Your Specialist Appointment
To make the most of your specialist doctor appointment, you want to fill out any necessary paperwork and jot down all the prescription medications you’re taking before going to the specialist. You can also check that your medical history has been sent to the specialist. It’s also helpful to make a list of questions ahead of time so that you get all the answers you’re looking for.
After your specialist appointment, your family doctor will receive a copy of the specialist’s findings and they may call to schedule an appointment with you to go over the specialist’s results or you can set up an appointment. Either way, your family doctor will discuss the specialist’s findings and create a treatment strategy (if necessary).
The Bottom Line
The most important thing to keep in mind is that your family doctor and you are a team; together, you’re working towards ensuring your best health. Seeing a specialist is an extension of your care as the results you gain from the specialist gives your family doctor better insight into how to care for you properly.