Three and a half months after starting my new medical practice, Direct Primary Care of Eugene (DPCE), I am still very much thrilled that I did it.
I love my humble little office, and I enjoyed decorating it to make a welcoming space. My days are interesting, whether I am seeing patients, getting out promoting myself at the Chamber of Commerce, local businesses or other physicians’ offices. It's also been a process learning the ins and outs of running a business like this.
The clinic’s phone number is forwarded into my mobile phone, and it rings many times a day. Lots of people call to ask about my practice, and I find myself telling the story of the Direct Primary Care of Eugene’s beginnings in various ways.
“Yes, I’m out on my own now!”
“So that’s when I joined the revolution of direct primary care!”
“I started my own practice! It’s a bit different, but it’s great!. Let me tell you all about it…”
‘Yep, I do everything from taking your blood pressure to cleaning the sinks. It's a one man show over here!”
“I’d love to have you enroll and see the difference,” I’ll say to people.
That’s the heart of the matter. It is very different, and in the good ways I’d hoped. I’ve had more time with patients to interact either in person or via text and email. I have a couch in the front room, but it hardly gets any use because patients don’t wait to see me. I’ve been making house calls and taking my vintage leather doctor’s bag along with my laptop, combining old and new. For years, patients have told me their blood pressure is lower at home, and you know what? They were right. When I check patients' blood pressure in their own easy chair at home, it has been normal much more often than it ever has been in the clinic setting. I tell people that’s reason enough to join my practice- it actually lowers your blood pressure! I’m guessing mine is lower too with this new style of practice.
I'm blessed that the practice is growing, and I am already at about one quarter of my intended capacity. Patients have responded well and seem to appreciate the direct care model and the extra time they get with the doctor when they come in. We aren't rushed, and more than one person has said that it's more relaxing. One person looked around part way through our visit "this is so great!" He elaborated that the mood and feel of the appointment is totally different from anything he'd previously experienced in a primary care office.
At this point I have the fundamentals in place to practice a full spectrum of primary care. In other words, I have a good routine going and time to catch my breath after getting things established in relatively short order. I’m now looking for ways to innovate and take things to a new level. I intend to use this blog space to communicate more about what is going on in the office and the Lane County medical community as a whole. My first two blogs were about why someone would think about starting or joining a practice like DPCE. Now I can shift to updates about what is new or surprising in my world.
I am starting to offer walking appointments. Office visit that are not office visits at all? What if we went for a walk? I haven’t bothered to Google it to see if anyone else does this, but I’d like to introduce the ‘one mile visit’ and the ‘two mile visit.’ I’m blessed that DCPE is located close to Alton Baker Park and some great areas to walk near the Willamette River. I’ve really enjoyed it for my own training. I think it would be a great way to catch up on what we in the business call the ‘interval medical history’ to do it while walking. We can even just walk around the parking lot is a mile sounds too far. This way, the doctor and patient can to get to know each other a bit better while enjoying fresh air and some kinetic energy. No need to break any speed records, and granted the weather could be a factor at times. But don’t be surprised if when you call for an appointment I suggest you bring your walking shoes and comfy workout clothes. And don’t try to claim you’re sick or something either. Insert smiley face emoticon here.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!