What’s wrong with today’s primary care?
Dissatisfaction with the traditional primary care experience runs deep: 81% of all people dislike their experience and are looking for something (anything!) better.
The majority of dissatisfaction come from the rushed, transactional visits that are the norm in the primary care office: you get 10 minutes of questions from the medical assistant, 5 minutes with the doctor, and a handful of prescriptions to “treat” the symptoms you came in with.
Never mind that you just drove 30 minutes in heavy traffic, sat in the waiting room for another 25 minutes, and spent $40 on a sitter for the kids.
None of us are happy with this approach. How could we be?
What women want from their doctor
Having listened to so many women over the years talk about their experiences with health care, and having had so many of my own experiences, there is a consistent pattern of needs that emerges from all of the conversations. It was from those needs that we started Vytal Health: to give women the relationship they want with their doctor, holistic expertise, and the convenience of virtual primary care.
What is Virtual Primary Care and how does it work?
If you’ve never had a primary care doctor outside of a clinic setting, the idea can seem a little “out there.” Let me break down some of the most common questions we hear from patients about primary care on-line.
- What if I need to be referred to a specialist? We can refer to specialists outside of Vytal Health. Your insurance continues to cover those doctors as long as they’re in your network. We ensure a smooth hand-off and make it as easy as possible.
- What if I need an x-ray, CT scan or MRI? We can order those for you if needed just like any doctor at your local clinic. The location where you have these radiology tests done has a separate contract with your insurance company, so the fact that the order comes from a Vytal Health physician has no impact on whether the test is covered by your insurance or not. We always recommend checking with your insurance to make sure a test is covered to avoid any surprises with billing.
- What if I need to be examined in person? Since so much of how we diagnose people is in listening to the information our patients are telling us, we can usually make a diagnosis via telemedicine. There will be times where we need to send you to Urgent Care or to your gynecologist to be seen and evaluated. Again, these traditional visits would typically be a part of your insurance plan. That said, there are reasons to have an exam. For women, keeping your gynecologist, having a breast exam and a pap and/or pelvic exam at the recommended intervals for your age are important parts of staying healthy. Having routine blood work makes sense for many, although again that blood testing should be personalized to your own and your family’s risk patterns. Not everyone should have a cholesterol panel year after year, for example.
- What about blood work? Much of the testing we do can be done right in the comfort and privacy of your home. But there are times when you will need (or choose) to get your blood drawn, for example:
- Some lab testing simply cannot be done at home
- Some lab testing can be less expensive through your local lab and with your insurance. We can help you figure this out. Your insurance should typically cover some or all of this, depending on your deductible and insurance plan.
But What About a Physical?
Great question. The tried-and-true ritual of the annual physical is part of the medical culture, and is often the longest amount of time you spend with your primary care doctor each year. Interestingly, the research shows that having a physical exam once a year doesn’t catch disease early, nor does it prevent death.
So why do we go? Part of it is habit. Part of it is the belief that we are actually doing something to stave off disease and stay healthy. But as a physician I can say that the physical isn’t personalized, and it should be. What you need during that 30 minutes with your doctor is probably quite different than what the next patient needs. And it doesn’t necessarily involve a physical exam. When doctors examine healthy people, they aren’t able to pick up many clues about their health. More of that comes from the conversation they have together, which can be done with virtual primary care. Imagine how much detail a doctor can gather when you spend 30-60 minutes talking about your health. That’s exactly what we do at Vytal Health.