Rethink the Status Quo in 2021
I recently wrote an article for the Columbia Star Newspaper about the Direct Primary Care (DPC) model and Noreta Family Medicine. In case you are not aware, the Columbia Star newspaper is a local, family-owned newspaper that has been around since 1963. They cover a lot of stories that are not picked up by other local news outlets including high school sports. I have a feeling that if you have had kids/grandkids attend school in Columbia’s K-12 system, you are aware of the Columbia Star!
When I was going through medical school, I would always be asked “What kind of doctor are you going to be?” One of the reasons I chose family medicine was because when I pictured a doctor, I pictured the family doctor I had when I was growing up. Back then, going to his office was not so complicated. When I was sick, my mom would call to get an appointment and I would go in that day. At the end of the visit, my mom would pay and that was it.
As I have gone through residency and have now been in practice for 10+ years, I see how things have changed. That simple interaction between family doctor and patient has become more complicated. Unlike when I was growing up, I noticed that my patients were not able to call up and get an appointment. They had to navigate a phone tree, followed by a receptionist, and then my nurse with delays between each call. I noticed patients complaining about bills they had received over 12 months after their visit. In the Columbia Start article, I wrote:
I was “becoming increasingly disillusioned by the number of regulations I had to follow. This led to one unhappy patient after another, with the same complaints year after year. By the time I walked into exam rooms to see patients, they were already frustrated. I spent most of the visit trying to refocus their attention onto their health. I wasn’t satisfied with the current healthcare solutions that were being presented, and I knew my patients and I needed to find a better way.”
I wondered why patients and healthcare professionals were accepting this substandard service. I did not like the changes I was seeing, and my patients’ health was suffering. My goal as a doctor is to help people, and frustrated patients do not make for healthy people!
Since a New Year is upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone that you have options when it comes to your healthcare. You do not need to accept going to a doctor’s office if you are unhappy with your care. Don’t insurance network restriction limit your choices. Your health is one of the most important aspects of your life, so if you are frustrated by the traditional health care system, leave it in the dust and try Direct Primary Care (DPC). There’s nothing worse than feeling like you don’t have any options, because I felt that way before I opened Noreta. Here’s how I described my first 6 months of being a direct primary care physician in the Columbia Star article:
“I have enjoyed hearing the surprise (and usually a few seconds of silence) when a new patient calls the office and I answer the phone with “Hello, it’s Dr. Boylan.” It is now standard for me to take 30-60 minutes for patient visits. I have learned more about my patients during these visits than I did in all my years at my old job. I have the flexibility to do home visits. I have saved patients hundreds of dollars on medications, labs, and imaging studies. I have listed some examples of cost savings on Noreta’s blog. Noreta Family Medicine also has special pricing for small businesses who want to help keep their employees healthy but cannot afford a full health insurance plan for them.”
I just wish I had made the change sooner! Give Noreta a call.
I look forward to meeting you!
Melissa Boylan, MD, FAAFP