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Not All Fertility Centers Are Created Equal

June 29, 2015 – Experts Down The Hall – Adrienne Neithardt

Source: Huffington Post – June 8, 2015

Huffington Post blogger Heather Huhman recently provided suggestions of how to evaluate a fertility center—including when to seek a second opinion.
According to Huhman, it’s not enough to pick the closest center that accepts your insurance. Analyzing a center’s success rates should also play a part in your decision. Many women see pregnancy as a measure of success, but Huhman said looking at live birth rates can give you a better idea of a center’s track record.
But success rates alone do not tell the whole story of a fertility center. Other factors that should be taken into consideration are a center’s willingness to accept patients who may not be successful during a first round of IVF, and adoption of best practices set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, such as single embryo transfer.

Your doctor should develop a plan of care that is unique for you. Huhman notes that you should always seek a second opinion if you are not comfortable with your doctor and his or her decisions.

Another aspect to consider is whether a center’s doctors are board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. However, trusting your doctor and his or her plan of care is one of the most important aspects of the process. Centers that provide other treatment options outside of IVF show that they are not just concerned with moving forward with the most expensive treatment option available.

Your doctor should develop a plan of care that is unique for you. Huhman notes that you should always seek a second opinion if you are not comfortable with your doctor and his or her decisions. The staff at the center you choose should also celebrate your successes and be a source of support when needed.

From Our Expert, Dr. Adrienne Neithardt

“RAD strives to give every one of our patients the best individualized care possible.”

I think the recommendations posed by Heather Huhman are good rules of thumb to use when choosing a fertility center. Overall, patients should feel comfortable. They need to feel safe to discuss their entire medical history and talk about aspects of their life they wouldn’t normally talk about with other people. I always tell my patients that they have to let me know what their boundaries are, so we can develop a treatment plan based on those limits.

A fertility center should ideally give patients significant time with their doctor, and I believe this is what makes RADfertility unique. The reason we schedule adequate time for new patient appointments is because we want to get to know you, we want to make sure we have all your medical information, and want you to have time to ask questions. Our excellent clinical staff offers a lot of their time for clinical testing so the doctors have time for these important consults.

At the first appointment, I will typically go over a patient’s entire medical history, any prior treatments they’ve had, and then I go over some specific things—their age and whether they have conditions that would affect their fertility—to try and educate them about their chances for pregnancy. I also outline the process and review what tests we are going to perform, and why we are going to perform those tests. Patients will also meet with their coordinator and our financial team at that time. I want patients to have all that information upfront so they understand their care and know what to expect going forward.

The article also places an emphasis on finding doctors who are board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) by the American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Each board certification is obtained after a thorough written and oral exam from leaders in the field to ensure doctors are providing excellent, medically sound patient care. Board certified doctors complete a review every year and take a new exam every 6 years. At RADfertility, all four of our doctors are board certified in both OB/GYN and REI.

Choosing a fertility center that has a diversified set of treatment options is also important. We realize that every patient is unique, and may need other treatment options depending on that patient’s needs. RAD offers a spectrum of patient care through our Family of Services programs, and creates treatment plans that can incorporate Fertility Wellness, Reproductive Surgery, Genetic Counseling, Donor Services, and Fertility Preservation.

Patients for whom IVF is the right treatment have additional family building options within our IVF programs. RAD offers traditional IVF, embryo culturing with our EmbryoScope®, and pre-implantation genetic screening through our IVF for ME™ program. Our center has practiced single embryo transfer (SET) since 2006, which is one of the safest and healthiest ways to have a baby with assisted reproductive technology. RAD has one of the lowest numbers of average embryos transferred in the United States, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

With these treatment options, we hope that everyone who comes to us is successful, but we also want to be honest. We don’t want our patients to choose a treatment plan that won’t work for them. There can be a discrepancy between what a patient’s goals are and what is going to be the most successful option for them, and it is up to us as reproductive endocrinologists to create a plan together with our patients that will ultimately fit their medical, emotional, and financial needs.

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