Annapolis Internal Medicine Doctor Aims To Reduce Patient Wait Times
An Annapolis Internal Medicine doctor is setting his aim on reducing patient wait times and providing patients a far superior level of “customer service” than any primary care practice has done previously. And he is convinced he can do it for a reasonable price that is affordable to just about anyone at little more than just $1.15 per day.
Almost every one can relate to stories of waiting a long time in dingy or germ-infested Internal Medicine or Family Practice waiting room only to then be sequestered, alone and in a paper gown for another 30 minutes in a smaller room only to be finally seen in 5 minutes by a rushed provider who looks like they can barely stay on the treadmill. This scenario should be an atrocious exception but instead it seems to have become the norm for many primary care practices as over-burden doctors, who are in short supply, contend with ever increasing hoops they must jump through in order to be paid for their time.
Evolve Direct Primary Care was recently featured in Physicians Practice, a national magazine for doctors detailing the success of their model. Here is a quote from that article “Freedman’s intent was to reduce the cost of patient care, improve care quality, and boost customer service. “… I had the vision of what I wanted to do, what I wanted to provide,” says Freedman, who declined participation in a national concierge practice chain due to concerns about the small number of patients who could afford to join such a practice. “… I started with a goal of, ‘How can I provide really excellent care to a much greater percentage of [patients]?'” Evolve, says Freedman, was the answer.”
Below is a reprint of an article titled, “New Annapolis medical clinic aims to reduce patient wait times” which originally appeared in the Capital Gazette by Shantee Woodards12:29 p.m. EDT, August 28, 2014
When Jane Grimes learned her doctor was leaving the practice, she decided to follow him.
Now, as a member of the Evolve Medical Clinic, the Glen Burnie resident pays a monthly and per visit fee to get access to primary and urgent care services. Patients there also have the option to virtual visits, which can keep them from traveling to the facility.
“I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent at urgent cares and different facilities waiting for results of X rays,” said Grimes, who has been to the new clinic twice. “They take the X rays in five minutes, but you want four hours for somebody to come back and talk to you.”
Evolve has been operating out of a space out of South Cherry Grove Avenue, just off of Forest Drive. Led by Dr. Michael Freedman, the facility used Facebook and other forms of social media to spread the word about their services. So far, Evolve has less than 100 members, but Freedman has long term plans to have additional clinics where he sees a need.
“Under the old model, the only way we get reimbursed is if we drag them in from home to be seen,” said Freedman, previously of Annapolis Internal Medicine. “There are a lot out there who have had enough of that.”
Statewide, roughly 100 physicians have left their practice to offer some sort of concierge or direct pay services, officials said. As health care shifts toward costlier insurance – Maryland’s bronze plan has a $6,000 deductible – consumers are going to be paying more attention to how their money is spent. That gives direct pay services and urgent care facilities an opportunity to grow, said Gene Ransom, of MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society.
In the Annapolis area, there are several options for after hours care outside of hospital emergency rooms. Righttime Medical Care started out offering medical services for children, but also offers it to adults. In Edgewater, Doctors Express provides urgent and walk-in services.
“These kinds of practices are going to be more and more prevalent with the changes happening under health care,” Ransom said. “What’s changing is that as folks are being pushed out of hospitals for various reasons and as folks are paying more for health care … they’re going to be more demanding in what they get.”
At Evolve, members pay $35 per month and $25 per visit. They still use their insurance plans for specialists and labs. Health Savings and flex spending accounts can be used to pay the membership fees. Non members can be serviced for a $75 charge.
With a staff of seven, the goal is to have patients wait no longer than 30 minutes. The clinic is being outfitted with three booths that will be used to serve virtual office visits. With that, patients are given a secure URL and are sent to a virtual waiting room. From there, Freedman and staff can review images of the patient and provide recommendations or send to other specialists when necessary.
“Our job with this model, is to provide the best care in the timeliest manner possible,” Freedman said. He previously worked at the Annapolis Outreach Center at the Stanton Center, which uses a volunteer medical staff to provide health and dental services to the uninsured. “With the Stanton clinic, all that mattered there was that the doctors wanted to take care of people and people needed to get care. And as long as you removed all the other barriers – insurance or payment – people are happy. The doctors are happy to take care of people for free.”