Multi-Provider Clinic Cons
You Won't Always See Your Doctor
At a larger clinic, you’ll be paired with one primary doctor, but will likely see the other physicians as well. While all doctors at a practice should be up-to-speed on your journey, it can be a real pain to have to feel “new” every visit.
A clinic should always schedule your consultations, reviews, and other major appointments with your primary reproductive endocrinologist. However, for the more routine appointments (i.e. HSG, saline sonogram, morning monitoring, etc.), you'll likely see the doctor scheduled for that particular task on that specific day.
More New Faces
Don’t recognize the person drawing your blood this morning? Meet a new receptionist? It can feel a little less predictable or familiar. However, they should do everything they can to make you feel comfortable and welcome.
Lack of Community
Anonymity amongst other patients can be both a pro and a con, depending on how you look at it (and what other tools your clinic offers). Some clinics offer support groups to combat feelings of isolation and promote connection with other patients.
You Might Feel Like a "Number"
Multiple doctors, unfamiliar nurses, many different exam rooms…it can lead to feeling like "just another patient" sometimes. However, if they are any good at what they do, they will NEVER make you feel like this. No matter the size, there’s no excuse for not welcoming you with all the warmth you deserve. You should always feel safe and thoroughly cared for.
The Bottom Line for Multi-Provider Clinics
Whether large or small, a clinic needs to be a well-oiled machine so that you can take advantage of all the opportunities they offer. Being larger should not entitle them to be any less friendly or personal. No one wants to feel like they’re in a factory.
However, if a multi-provider clinic puts patients first, they will be able to offer you the added benefits of a larger practice while providing attentive, personalized care at the same time.
Pros & Cons of Single-Provider Fertility Clinics
A smaller fertility clinic run by a single healthcare provider might mean the experience feels more personal, more accessible, and you may get more face time with your individual doctor.
If you decide to choose a single-provider clinic, make sure that they are adequately staffed and have all the additional tools you want – nutrition, acupuncture, counseling, or other support offerings. If your chosen clinic doesn't have those additional tools on-site, they should (at the very least) be able to offer vetted recommendations for you.
A single-provider clinic might feel more “boutique” in aesthetic based on its size and personal perks, but it could also have tighter schedules, offsite labs, fewer reviews and less support overall.
Single-Provider Clinic Pros
Here are some potential benefits of a single-provider fertility clinic:
Small, Personal Feel
This is a big one for many patients, and it might be all the reason you need to choose a single-provider clinic. It's nice to get to know everyone in the office by your second or third visit!
You'll Always See the Same Doctor
Whether it’s a consultation, testing, or morning monitoring, you’ll always see the same physician. With only one provider, you’ll never have to worry about seeing a different face.
A smaller, single-provider clinic might be easier to get ahold of or get responses from, since there are fewer team members to get through.
Trendy, Boutique Setting
Some smaller clinics turn the luxury all the way up. Maybe it’s an Instagram-worthy waiting areas, or modern, spa-like exam rooms. Boutique aesthetics mean keeping up with design trends and that is much easier to manage when your clinic has a smaller footprint.
Single Provider IVF Clinic Cons
Remember what we said about single-provider clinics being more personal and intimate? Again, this can be a good or bad thing, depending on your personality. Maybe you don’t want to know anyone when you walk in for morning monitoring in your PJs!
No Collaborative Care
Unlike a practice with multiple doctors privy to the same patient information, a single provider only has their own personal experience and knowledge at their disposal. If they get stumped or want a second opinion, they will have to go outside of the office to other professionals not directly involved in your care, which can be more difficult and even slow down your treatment process.
Less Available Success Rate Data
We all know that the more participants there are in a study, the more reliable the research and conclusions are. The same thing applies here – a higher number of patients means a higher amount of success rate data, which can provide more confidence in your clinic.
Less Available Appointments
With only one provider seeing patients, it might be harder to get an appointment time that works best for you and your schedule. It may also take longer to get on their schedule or start a treatment cycle.
The Bottom Line for Single-Provider Clinics
Similar to the caveat with multi-provider clinics, if a single-provider clinic has a well-organized communication system and are focused on getting you the best care possible, a smaller staff with fewer fancy offerings shouldn’t be a hindrance – they should be able to direct you to excellent services that complement their family-building options.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to choose the clinic that gives you a hopeful, energized, positive feeling in your gut. Understand how the clinic operates (do they prioritize patient-first, collaborative care?) and be your own biggest advocate.
And if something feels “off,” ask questions about it! Maybe the clinic's staff have a great explanation or alternative offering, or perhaps you dislike their response and voilà! You’ve just narrowed down your list even further.
4 Essential Factors to Consider
No matter which type of clinic you choose (large or small), it's important keep the following factors in mind to ensure you have the best experience possible:
- Location: You will be visiting your clinic multiple times for testing, and then various times during your cycle. No one wants to have to drive an hour and a half at 5:30am to get to those early morning monitoring appointments!
- Accreditation: Make sure the doctor is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist, and that the clinic's laboratories are fully licensed and accredited.
- Transparency: The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) is an unbiased source of fertility clinic data that most reputable clinics contribute to each year. If a clinic contributes to SART, they must report the most factual depiction of their success rates, number of treatment cycles, and patient population, which means more honest info.
- Impression: You should feel confident in your decision when choosing a fertility clinic. Listen to your intuition and reflect on any communication you've had with the clinic's staff before making a final decision.
Finding the Right Fertility Clinic Fit
The next step is up to you… how will each of these pros and cons fit into your life? What matters to you most on this journey? What are the priorities? Only you have those answers.
Whatever your preferences may be, the best way to find the right fit for you is to research your options. Ask questions of anyone that will answer – for example, your gynecologist might have recommendations on clinics and your friend that went through IVF will have an opinion based on their experience. You can also begin by calling different fertility clinics to get a sense of how they interact with patients and what they offer.
Remember: Fertility testing and treatment take time, so the sooner you narrow your list of prospective fertility clinics down, the closer you are to building your dream family.