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Meet the Optum providers on your side 

Meet the Optum providers on your side 

With our network of nationwide health experts, we’re able to make sure you get the care you need. 

Health care can be overwhelming. Many providers seem too busy to really hear you out. And if you’re seeing more than one doctor, you may even receive conflicting advice.  

These problems affect everybody. But they’re often worse for older adults, who are at higher risk of chronic health problems.1 That’s why it’s important to find a care team you trust. With the right provider or network of providers, you’ll know exactly what to do next.  

That’s where Optum comes in. Our doctors, specialists and other health care professionals are committed to providing clear direction. They pride themselves on earning patient trust, and they work together to make sure you’re getting the best possible care.  

“It is very important to have someone on your side,” says Stephanie Peterson, MD. She’s a chief medical officer with Optum. “Optum has the resources to help patients with what they need.”  

Like all Optum experts, Dr. Peterson is part of a large team that works to support your health. Keep reading to understand how this works and how to get the most from your health care experience.

A doctor embracing a patient by holding her hands as they talk in front of a computer.
Optum doctors are focused on you
Our primary care providers, specialists and care teams are here to help you reach your health goals.

First stop: Primary care 

For most patients, health care starts with a primary care provider (PCP). This is the health care professional who handles your preventive care and manages medical conditions. They’re also the person you go to when you’re sick.   

In some cases, your Optum PCP will treat you directly. In others, they’ll help you find the right specialist. “They’re the conductor of your health care,” says Dr. Peterson. “They’re going to be able to help you get the care you need, even when they’re not the one to provide it.” 

Your PCP could be a:2 

  • Doctor of medicine (MD) 
  • Doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) 
  • Nurse practitioner (NP) 
  • Clinical nurse specialist (CNS) 
  • Physician assistant (PA) 

Primary care physicians specialize in one of these areas:3 

  • Family medicine: treatment of people of all ages 
  • Internal medicine: treatment of adults of all ages 
  • Pediatrics: treatment of children, adolescents and young adults 
  • Geriatrics: treatment of older adults 
  • Obstetrics/gynecology: treatment of women 

At your PCP’s office, you’ll also likely meet other members of your care team, which may include registered nurses, nurse practitioners or physician assistants. They support your PCP, and more importantly, they support you. So when you can’t see your PCP right away, you may be able to see one of them. 

No matter what member of your care team you see, come prepared with a pre-visit checklist:  

  • Fill out any paperwork or forms you may have received. 
  • Write down your questions or symptoms or any concerns. 
  • Be honest and share all details about your health. 
  • Bring a list of all medicines and supplements you take and why you take them. 

Specialty care: When you need extra help

Your PCP can treat both acute problems such as a sprained ankle and chronic problems such as diabetes. But sometimes they’ll want to get a specialist involved. This is someone with extra training in a specific area of medicine. 

Your Optum PCP will determine which type of specialist you should see. For example, if you have heart problems, your PCP might refer you to a cardiologist for an evaluation. When your Optum PCP suggests a specialist, they’ll give you a recommendation they stand behind. “If there are 12 different cardiologists, they can help identify which cardiologists within that network are providing the best care for your condition,” Dr. Peterson says.  

Ultimately, your PCP serves as your care coordinator. They can make sure you see the most appropriate specialists and that all your health information rolls up into your care plan. 

Support services: Looking at the big picture 

Optum knows you’re more than a collection of symptoms and conditions. Our providers work hard to care for the whole person. Among other things, that means considering social determinants of health.4 These are non-medical factors that can affect your health, including: 4,5 

  • You have trouble paying for nutritious food 
  • You have difficulty affording medications 
  • You need help scheduling care or recovering from a procedure 
  • You have a chronic condition 
  • You have trouble finding transportation to your doctor’s appointments 

If you’re struggling in one of those areas, your PCP can direct you toward community resources. “It is really important to connect with your primary care clinician, because there are a lot of resources out there,” Dr. Peterson says. 

Depending on your condition, Optum may assign you a health coach for extra support. “Health coaches can help with things like nutrition and exercise programming, but they also can help direct you when you need to enroll in a chronic condition management program,” Dr. Peterson says. 

If you join a chronic condition management program, you’ll have direct access to a care manager. As always, the goal is to make sure you get the best, most connected care possible. 

Looking for an Optum doctor in your area? Our team of providers will get you the best care wherever you are. Find an Optum doctor.

Care when and where you need it 

Getting care doesn’t always mean traveling to a doctor’s office. With Optum, you can choose between in-person and virtual care in many situations. Virtual visits can happen over the phone or through a videoconferencing app. 

“Virtual visits can be really helpful for patients who live in more remote locations,” Dr. Peterson says. For those patients, the long drive to the doctor’s office can make care difficult.  

Of course, when you need immediate care, you should see someone in person. Your PCP is usually your go-to for nonemergencies such as earaches, sore throats and minor injuries. If you can’t wait to see your regular doctor, an urgent care center is a good choice. For life-threatening situations such as severe difficulty breathing, deep wounds and sudden confusion, go to the emergency room or call 911.6 

“As patients, we need to trust our instincts,” Dr. Peterson says. 

If you aren’t sure where to seek care — and you aren’t having a medical emergency — Dr. Peterson suggests using the Optum NurseLine. Registered nurses and other health care experts are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They can advise you on the best place to get care. They can also help you schedule appointments. You’ll find the phone number on the back of your member ID card. 

“When the condition allows for you to engage with your primary care provider, that’s always a good option,” Dr. Peterson says. But if you need care right away, there are a lot of resources that can help. 

At Optum, all those resources are connected, and your care team works together to provide them to you. So, you don’t have to feel alone because your Optum team is centered on you. 


  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2030: Older Adults. Accessed December 13, 2023. 
  2. Healthcare.gov. Primary care provider. Accessed November 27, 2023. 
  3. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Choosing a primary care provider. Last updated July 8, 2023. Accessed November 14, 2023.  
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Social determinants of health. Accessed November 27, 2023. 
  5. Optum. Care coordination program. Accessed December 4, 2023. 
  6. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. When to use the emergency room — adult. Last reviewed July 25, 2022. Accessed November 27, 2023. 

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