4 Tips on Helping Older Teenagers Graduate from Pediatric to Adult Care

Choosing a new primary care physician (PCP) is a big decision for anyone. But it’s especially true for young men and women (and their families) as they enter adulthood. It is estimated that more than 4 million Americans will turn 18 in 2023.1

The following steps can help pediatric doctors and their teams facilitate the transition to a new PCP for their “older” patients:

1. Create a Transition Policy

Make sure it’s readily available to practitioners, parents/guardians, and adolescents. According to gottransition.org , this policy and process should be a part of planning for all adolescents, including those with special needs. In addition, the Got Transition website has other valuable recommendations on helping pediatric patients graduate to adult care.

2. Educate Families

Family members usually need guidance about the transition process and their role in it. Inform parents and guardians of the legal changes that occur once a child reaches age 18 and emphasize how pediatric and adult care are delivered differently. Be prepared to address any questions regarding this transition.

3. Empower Adolescent Patients

Teenage patients should be viewed as key participants in the process. Discussions about the transition should begin in early adolescence, with the goal of members completing the process between the ages of 18 and 21. To assess patient readiness, physicians can download and administer the ADAPT Survey.2

A focus of these practice-patient conversations should include plans after high school graduation, such as attending college or vocational school, joining the military, or entering the workforce. These decisions will often affect the selection of an adult care provider.

4. Access Key Resources

The American College of Physicians has created a Pediatric to Adult Care Transitions Toolkit that has valuable information for helping pediatric practices, patients, and parents prepare for this change. Some of the subjects covered include implementing a transition plan, establishing timelines, measuring progress, and maintaining up-to-date medical records and documentation to help ensure a seamless transition to an adult care provider.

As with any big life change, preparation is key. These four tips can assist pediatric practices in facilitating the transition of members to an adult care provider.

1According to the National Vital Statistics Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2007, there were 4.13 million babies born in the United States during 2005. In 2023, they will be turning 18 years of age.

2ADAPT is an acronym for Adolescent Assessment of Preparation for Transition.

Highmark does not recommend particular treatments or health care services. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should determine the appropriate treatment and follow-up with your patient. Coverage of services is subject to the terms of each member’s benefit plan. Additionally, state laws and regulations governing health insurance, health plans and coverage may apply and will vary from state to state.