What is a secondary care provider?

Which healthcare professional is typically a secondary care provider?

A secondary health care provider is typically someone that you need a referral to go see. They are professionals such as a dermatologist or physical therapist, Surgeons, and specialists.  They are healthcare providers that are not your primary and could not be your primary doctor.  Many times they are highly specialized in a certain area.

Another prime example of secondary care providers is plastic surgeons. They are healthcare providers that oftentimes are paid out of pocket for elective health care services. These can be things such as plastic surgeries.

Other types of secondary providers.

Many times people think of physician assistants and nurse practitioners as secondary care providers as well. This is because they cannot actually practice without being under the umbrella of a licensed physician. However, let’s break down exactly what a physician assistant or nurse practitioner is.

A physician assistant acts very similarly to a primary physician. They are not fully licensed to practice medicine.  It is very similar to the role of a nurse practitioner.  A nurse practitioner is someone who has taken post-secondary education.  They too need to work under a licensed provider.  This means that they are a secondary care provider. They are not a primary care provider.  However, depending on your insurance, they could be.  It can get a little confusing.

Nurse practitioners are people who have completed post-secondary education for nurse-midwifery, nursing, or midwifery studies, the same as physician assistants.  However, they only work under physicians or other licensed practitioners.  Because of this, they can be considered a primary care provider.

Secondary care providers often coordinate with the primary care physician.  This allows them to provide the best overall care of the patient.  This includes nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, podiatrists, optometrists, dietitians, and the like.  If a nurse practitioner is working under a physician they are likely to be on an independent contractor basis.  They will act as if they are the primary care physician.  They will assist the secondary care to provide what they need.

Who to go to for medications.

Typically whoever the patient is under care for, will be the person that will prescribe medications.  For example, if you have surgery, you will get your pain medications from the surgeons’ office.  Your primary care physician will not be in charge of that. However, if you have high blood pressure, then your primary care office is who you need to go see.  Be sure that you communicate with each office what types of medications you are taking and the doses.  It is also helpful to use one pharmacy so that you will not have any conflicting medications as well.

How to get seen by a secondary care provider

Most health care insurances will ask you to provide the name of your primary care physician. They will often require approvals for secondary care such as specialists.  A referral will have to be made by your primary care to go to the secondary care physician. Sometimes this referral will need to be approved by your insurance company.  You will need to ask your insurance how the process works.