Choosing the Right Stem Cell Doctor
Steps to Finding A Stem Cell Doctor
Ask For Recommendations
Talk with your primary care physician or specialist to see if they have any recommendations for stem cell doctors. The medical community knows things that you may not find online or even in talking with peers who’ve experienced the same thing. If your primary care physician or specialist raves about a particular doctor, then it may be a good referral.
One important factor to consider before you start your search for a doctor is understanding your insurance coverage. It’s possible that your insurance company will require you to go to certain facilities. If you only have a handful of facilities to choose from in your area, then it automatically narrows down your search. Find out where you can go and then proceed to the next step.
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Deciding on location is a crucial decision. Some transplant centers aren’t close to your home or primary care physicians office. You may have to see if the transplant center offers affordable housing options for you and a caregiver. Patients are expected to stay near the transplant center for recovery following the procedure and there’s no clear cut answer for how long. This is another decision that will narrow down your search for a stem cell doctor.
Once you know who and what your insurance will cover, then you can move on to calling around to determine their costs. There will likely be some out-of-pocket costs and you’ll want to be prepared for that. Knowing this information assists in narrowing down your options.
What to Look for in Your Stem Cell Doctor
Length of Time Doing Stem Cell Transplants
One factor that should be considered without a doubt is how long your doctor has been performing stem cell transplants. The longer he or she has been doing them the more he/she will have seen over time. They will know what complications to expect and how to handle them. The same goes for the transplant facility overall.
Transplants For Your Specific Condition
Another factor you’ll want to consider is if your doctor has experience doing transplants for your specific condition. Don’t be afraid to ask for the number of transplants they’ve done for your condition in the last 2-5 years. Also, ask about the outcomes of those transplants. A transplant center should have a commitment to reporting and following patient outcomes, so they should have this for every doctor. There are actually national requirements that have to be met.
Is The Stem Cell Doctor Credentialed?
Credentialing is important and every legit doctor should have gone through this process at some point. A credentialing process involves collecting the following information from a physician:
- Work history
- Current curriculum vitae
- Board certification
- State licensure information
- Malpractice liability certificate
- Any controlled substance certificates
- And more!
In addition to providing the aforementioned information, a background check will also be completed to ensure everything is accurate and truthful.
Ask About Their Memberships, Too
Stem cell transplantation is still a very new area of medicine. As a result, many doctors are jumping in even if they have no specialized training in the field. You should ask about your potential stem cell doctors memberships as it will shed light on what they know. There are stem cell groups where physicians have to pay a professional membership fee to be a part of it. These groups provide best practices and information on what’s new in the field. This displays a dedication to learning and is an important factor to consider.
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Confirm Stem Cell Harvesting Source
Since this is your transplant, you have the right to know the source of your stem cells. The location where the stem cells are harvested should be FDA approved. Unfortunately, not all places are created equal and there are some poor quality places. This can directly impact the efficacy of your treatment. Your doctor should be able to gladly provide you with this information.
In addition, whether they use your own cells or a donors, they should verify the amount of living cells in the tissue being used in your transplant. If your own cells are used, they should be sent to an independent laboratory to verify the viability. You want to ensure that your cells can be cultured to produce more stem cells.
Will They Collaborate With Your Primary Care Physician?
Your stem cell doctor and the clinic you select should be able to collaborate with your primary care physician at each step of the process. This ensures that you get a continuum of care, which decreases many gaps that can occur in healthcare. At the minimum, your stem cell doctor should provide a weekly update on your stem cell transplant and recovery.