Learn to Thrive with a cup o’ Joe

2017-10-03T00:40:56+00:00

We are kicking off public information sessions with a coffee-at-lunchtime series daily at 12:15pm all week long in our office at 835 West Central Street in Franklin, MA!  Drop in for a hot cup o’ Joe from Elizabeth’s Bagels and learn about the cost-saving health care option that puts the patient back in the driver’s seat.

 

At Thrive APC, we provide care that is Attentive, Personal and Complete via the revolutionary model of Direct Primary Care.  While the “health care” system is crumbling under our feet, we believe that you as a patient deserve to know you have an option that gives the control back to you.  It’s your health and your money.  Here, we care about all of that.

That’s why we focus doing more than just treating and averting illness and injury.  We advocate for whatever is in the best interest of our patients, and the results are already showing in several instances, but for now I will just talk about one.

 

A month before opening the office, I started seeing patients via home visits.  These were largely patients I had known from my previous practice — some of the most challenging patients who were extremely well known in that medical office for their frequent calls and appointments, and their complex medical needs.

One of them — I’ll call him Harold — gave me permission to share a little about his story to help illustrate the value of Direct Primary Care (DPC) for his situation.  Harry had a surgical complication several years back that has left him with very frequent recurrences of vague symptoms that intersect with his additional problem of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, making it challenging to know when something is “just a vague symptom” versus a truly dangerous problem.  Not to mention that he has an underlying complex anxiety disorder that clearly is not helped by any of this.  For years, Harry’s fear of a major problem has motivated him to seek care in the emergency room on average up to 4-5 times per month ever since his major surgery around 10 years ago, and he has befuddled enough Primary Care doctors that he cycled through every partner in my previous office before transferring his care to me in 2014.

I endeavored to keep Harry out of the ER by seeing him once a week for close to a year and his ER visits decreased to maybe 8-10 times that year — a remarkable change from 4-5 times per month (quick math… that’s 50-60 trips to the Emergency Room in a year).  Then my practice became so busy that I couldn’t see him that often, so his visits got spaced out to every other week, then once a month, then every other month… and gradually his ER visits re-accelerated in kind.

I left my previous practice in June and even though I had given him information on how to find me afterwards, he happened to misplace it, so we lost touch for most of the summer.  When he found me again in August I discovered that he had indeed resumed his original baseline pattern of depending on the ER for all his medical needs.  I signed him up as my patient and within the first week with me “at the wheel” he went to the ER about 3 times in one week.  It was discouraging.

But Harry realized he can get in touch with me when he needs me and every time he reaches out, he reaches me, not a phone tree or on-call person who has to look up his daunting record and try to piece together his complicated medical history before offering advice.  He started texting me every single day.  Maybe in the past month he has missed one or two days.  Otherwise it’s every day.  Sometimes he needs reassurance.  Sometimes it’s all tough love and I have to be hard on him.  Sometimes he needs real medical advice on tweaking this or that medication.  But because he has no doubt that I’m looking out for his best interest and that I’ll be there when he needs me, he is less likely to panic when he gets a bothersome symptom.  After a couple texts back-and-forth with me, he gets a new plan and he’s been sticking with it.

Harry has not gone back to the ER since that initial week.  It has been more than 6 weeks now.  We’ve scaled down his heavy-hitting medications which has caused the most striking change to date: he talks differently, with more energy and confidence.  Even though he continues to have similar symptoms from the past, after 10 years of being easily rattled he doesn’t seem as easy to rattle anymore.  It so happens that my secretary had also worked with me in my prior office (she had retired… but came out of retirement to work with me again! [blessed]), also knows Harry very well, and also noticed the change in him.  Six weeks! (knocking on wood!)

Here’s my punch line to all this.  Harry has a situation of significant financial hardship and is one of a handful of patients following me from my previous practice for whom I am providing FREE CARE in the setting of a long-established and hard-earned therapeutic relationship.  I do not and will never again bill any third-party health plan for my patient care, and that includes Medicare or Medicaid (MassHealth in MA).  This is a choice I made so that my time and effort can be devoted to patients.

That’s how Direct Primary Care works.  I know, it sounds like concierge medicine where patients get boutique-style, luxury-level attention and the doctor rakes it in.  Well, you could say Direct Primary Care is concierge for the patient.  But not so at all for the doctor.  This is anything but a cash cow.  However, I feel privileged to join a movement of medical providers who have definitively decided a steady, handsome salary for a job that robs the doctor-patient relationship of any semblance of “relationship,” and strangles any hope for a personal family life with endless charting and administrative tasks that can never be fit into a normal work day — I proudly join providers who have decided none of this was worth more than striking a balance between providing truly passionate patient care and spending quality time with their families.

 

I know, it’s hard to make sense of it.  It sounded too good to be true when I first heard about it, too.  But it is being done.  By some amazing people.  So I’m all in.

 

Get in touch to learn more about it.  Or just visit during lunch this week and enjoy a KILLER cup of coffee! 🙂