Away from home: Transitioning care for young adults
During this time of year, many young adults are transitioning outside of their local area to attend college, travel abroad, or start a new job. Having access to professional healthcare support is critical in managing their ongoing healthcare needs. Quick access to experienced physicians and high-quality care can be especially important if your child should face a serious illness, injury, or relapse while away from home. You can take several proactive steps to help ensure your children are prepared to get the care and support they may need to independently manage their health:
- Help them transition to a doctor near where they study, live or work. If your young adult has a complex health issue that requires ongoing care, it’s important to find a physician who can provide care, manage medications and other needed treatments, and oversee care in an emergency near your child’s college, home, or work, whether that’s in the U.S. or overseas. Your health insurer can provide a list of in-network physicians if any are available, although those lists may not be vetted and often only include physicians in the U.S. The college health services office may also be able to recommend a local specialist. In addition, a health advisor can provide ongoing education and support as your child transitions from pediatric to adult healthcare, and can connect your children with experienced and vetted physicians, in both the U.S. and abroad, to help coordinate care should an emergency arise.
- Make sure their medical records are accurate and available to any doctor who treats them. As your children prepare for this transition, make sure they gather all their medical records from each doctor who has cared for them. Those records should include a summary or overview of their condition and treatment, as well as detailed information about their diagnosis, prescriptions, hospitalizations, surgeries and other treatments, diagnostic test results, allergies and adverse drug reactions, and immunizations. The best approach is to have a curated medical record available online so that information can be quickly shared in an emergency. If possible, you and your child should review the records with his or her physicians to make sure they are current and accurate.
- If they’re living with a complex or chronic condition, help them build a support network. If your children are at college, it can be helpful for them to share the essential details of their condition with their roommates and resident advisor. That way, if your child has a blood sugar crisis or severe asthma attack, they will have someone with them who can recognize the signs and who knows how to get help quickly. Your children should meet with health services and share health records and any action plans their physician at home has developed for managing their condition. They can also share contact details for the physician who will be managing their care locally.
- Complete the paperwork needed so that you can be involved in their care in an emergency. Once your child turns 18, you no longer have authority to make healthcare decisions for your child or receive information about their care, even if he or she is still on your health insurance. Talk with your young adult children about completing a HIPAA authorization form and a medical power of attorney for the state where they are living or studying. On the HIPAA form, they can choose what information they want to share with you. If your child is in an accident or is seriously ill, these legal forms will allow you to talk directly with any treating physicians and make decisions for ongoing medical treatment or assistance should an emergency arise.
- Consider engaging the services of a professional health advisor or advocate. A professional health advisor or another resource with appropriate medical authorizations can help advocate locally on your child’s behalf. An advisor or advocate can serve as a professional, unbiased resource that your child can turn to for help coordinating local healthcare needs and ongoing prescriptions or treatments. Some services also include 24×7 travel support and global evacuation insurance, anywhere in the world, should the need arise.
View this video for further details on how PinnacleCare can make a life-saving difference in supporting young adults through these transitions and beyond.