Find a Doctor
Getting Care at Sharp
Helpful answers for new Sharp patients.
When you need care at Sharp, we're here to make it easy. To get you started, we'll answer some important questions you may have.
How do I find a Sharp doctor?
There are two simple ways to find the right doctor for you:
How do I make an appointment with a Sharp doctor?
If you're an existing patient with a Sharp doctor (have seen your doctor at least once), simply call your doctor's office to make an appointment.
If you have selected your doctor, but have not yet had your first appointment, you can call the doctor's office directly or call 1-800-82-SHARP ( 1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 7 am to 7 pm.
If you are new to Sharp, you may first need to select a primary care physician to act as your "personal" doctor.
What is a primary care physician?
A primary care physician (PCP) is your "personal" physician. Your PCP will become familiar with your health history, coordinate all your health care and refer you to specialty physicians. Doctors who specialize in family practice, internal medicine, general practice and pediatrics are all considered primary care physicians. Some OBGYNs are also considered PCPs.
If you have further questions about primary care, please call the member service department of your health insurance plan. The phone number is usually located on the back of your insurance card.
What is a specialty?
A specialty is a particular, focused field of medicine. A specialist is a doctor who cares for patients who have a particular set of diseases or conditions associated with that specialty. For example, a dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in disorders of the skin, hair and nails.
Before seeking care from a specialist, please confirm with your health plan if you need a referral from your primary care physician. The phone number for the member service department of your health plan is usually on the back of your insurance card.
How can I change my primary care physician?
You can change physicians at any time. While it's a good idea to stay with a primary care physician so he or she can really get to know you, your health needs and history, it is most important that you have a physician whom you trust, are comfortable with and is conveniently located near you.
If you need to change your primary care physician, use our Find a Doctor tool to select your new doctor. After that, make sure you call your health plan's member services department to inform them of this change. The phone number is usually located on the back of your insurance card.
Can I see a specialist directly, without a referral from my primary care physician?
Yes, in some cases. But you will need to contact your health plan's member services department to confirm that your coverage allows it.
Some health plans allow women to have direct, unlimited access to participating OBGYNs within their primary care physician's medical group for all obstetrical and gynecological services. Also, some medical groups offer direct access to other types of specialists, such as allergists, dermatologists and ophthalmologists. And some health plans, such as PPOs, offer direct access to all specialists.
The doctor I selected isn't taking new patients. What do I do?
For help, please call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, from 7 am to 7 pm, to speak with a physician referral nurse. Our referral nurses know our doctors and can help you select a doctor who is right for you and who is accepting new patients.
When can I see my new doctor?
If you just enrolled with a new health plan and chose a primary care physician, you can see your doctor as soon as your coverage becomes effective.
If you changed medical groups, make sure your appointment with your new primary care physician is on or after your effective date with your new medical group.
If you need to see a specialist, please confirm with your health plan if you need a referral from your primary care physician first.
What should I take to my first appointment?
In addition to getting to know you, your doctor will need to understand your health history as well — to ensure you are getting the precise care you need. It's best to bring as much medical information as possible to your first appointment. Here are some examples:
- Medical records
If you are undergoing treatment at the time you change doctors, your medical records are an invaluable source of information for your new doctor.
Provide a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking, including any herbal/naturopathic medications. Your doctor will want to know the name of the medication, the dosage, how often you take it and why you take it.
- Special needs
Make a list of any equipment or devices you use, including wheelchairs, oxygen and hospital beds, as well as glucose monitors and glucose strips. Your doctor should also know how you use the equipment and devices, to ensure you have the equipment you medically need and that there is no disruption in your care.
- Your insurance card
Your health plan generally does not provide your doctor with your insurance information, so providing your card to the office gives them the information they need about copays, where to send bills and customer service information about your benefits.
How do I know if Sharp accepts my insurance plan?
Sharp accepts most health insurance plans. Take a look at the plans we accept at Sharp.
If you do not have insurance, we welcome you to sign up for Sharp Health Plan, which offers a variety of health insurance options for individuals, families and businesses.
What should I do if my insurance or health plan isn't listed in the Find a Doctor tool?
We accept a wide range of health plans at Sharp. If you don't see your health plan in the Find a Doctor tool, please call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 7 am to 7 pm, so we may further assist you.
What if the doctor I selected doesn't accept my health insurance plan?
First, verify with the doctor's office that your health plan is truly not accepted, as the doctor may be in the process of updating insurance plans. You can call the doctor's office directly or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 7 am to 7 pm.
If you confirm the doctor does not accept your health plan, locate another doctor who does accept your insurance and is also a good fit for you.
What is a Sharp-affiliated medical group?
Sharp's three medical groups offer you direct access to San Diego doctors who provide clinical excellence, advanced technology and compassionate, affordable care.
A medical group is a network of doctors who have agreed to work together to contract with health plans and to coordinate patient care. When you choose a medical group, you are choosing the specific group of doctors who will provide your care — from primary care physicians to specialists.
Each Sharp medical group accepts a wide range of health plans. If you cannot locate your insurance or health plan in the Find a Doctor tool, please call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 7 am to 7 pm.