Tag Archives: local

Media Mentions for EverMed and DPC, Another Grant Request for PanZoe

We got a couple of media mentions a couple of weeks ago for EverMed’s DPC efforts. They were brief, one more or less accurate and the other word-for-word the way we would have like the issues framed.

From Elizabeth Hayes of The Portland Business Journal comes the following:

A Vancouver-area company is launching a new model of delivering primary care services in the Portland area, one designed to give patients direct access, regardless of their insurance plan.

EverMed Direct Primary Care of Camas isn’t itself insurance, but layers on top of a patient’s existing plan. A member pays a set monthly fee and receives comprehensive primary care services.

While most Director Primary Care companies employ doctors directly, EverMed is seeking established, independent primary care clinics. About 30 clinicians at eight clinics have signed up in Clark County and about half a dozen clinics are in various stages of the contracting process in Portland, said Seth Sjostrom, director of business development.

EverMed charges patients $45 to $85 a month for unlimited access to a primary care doctor for wellness exams, basic diagnostics and other non-emergency needs.

“The principle of DPC is that you don’t need insurance for day-to-day care. It’s for catastrophic illnesses,” said Dr. Dino Ramzi, EverMed’s chief medical officer and a physician with Lacamas Medical Group in Camas.

Members can enroll directly, though many have come through self-funded employer medical plans. Ultimately, EverMed would like to partner with an insurer who would devise a plan that doesn’t include primary care, Ramzi said.
So far, EverMed has signed up 75 members and five corporate clients. Sjostrom said the company is now promoting itself with insurance brokers in hopes of attracting more business during the 2015-16 enrollment season this fall.

More and more patients have gravitated to “bronze” plans, with high deductibles. Faced with copays or an unmet deductible, these patients may defer care, which ends up costing more in the long run when a patient ends up at an urgent care clinic or the ER. Highly effective primary care could save the health system a third of its costs, Ramzi said.

This upset Seth, as noted above, our Director of Business Development. It turns out I misrepresented our pricing structure, essentially because it has undergone several changes. My momoery is not what it used to be. In fact, as we prepare to enter the employer market more profoundly, there are signals we may have to make further changes. Pricing is an important component. We want to make sure providers get good value, but it is telling that employers are falling over themselves, given the price of assured primary care is remarkably low from tehir perspective.

The Direct Primary Care Journal did a perfect job representing our efforts. (Duh, it was a press release.)

Direct Primary Care clinics have been popping up all over the country, it was only a matter of time before the Portland marketplace became a part of the revolution in healthcare.

Born from the concierge clinic concept, Direct Primary Care (DPC) is the iteration for the masses. As one of EverMed DPC’s marketing tag lines states, DPC is “genuinely affordable health care”.

Direct Primary Care is a healthcare benefit option where members pay a set, low monthly fee to receive comprehensive primary care services. DPC is not itself insurance, it is an affordable option to access primary care needs for the member and their family.

EverMed DPC is a new spin on the growing Direct Primary Care marketplace. While most DPC offerings are staff model enterprises (the physicians work for the DPC business), EverMed DPC seeks out independent primary care clinics that are already established in the communities they serve.

“One of our key objectives as EverMed DPC is preserving the viability of the independent primary care practice. We see Direct Primary Care as a way for clinics to not only survive, but thrive,” says founder and clinician Scott Jonason, PA-C.

EverMed DPC makes accepting direct primary care patients a turn-key proposition for clinics. “We handle nearly everything for clinics – marketing, contracting, payroll and bank withdrawals, enrollments – all the clinics we serve really have to do, is see their patients,” Director of Business Development, Seth Sjostrom states.

With their network in southwest Washington established, growing northward into Seattle and across the river into Oregon were natural next steps. “If anything, we were overwhelmed by the positive response we received. We quickly realized growing slowly was not an option,” Sjostrom says.

EverMed DPC’s plan? Having enough clinics spread throughout the Portland metro in time to have homes for primary care patients opting for DPC membership during the 2015-2016 healthcare enrollment season.

“Our second objective is to truly remove finances as a barrier to primary care,” Jonason explains, “Working with the healthcare broker community and employers, we provide an affordable way to provide quality care while at the same time, driving down costs.”

EverMed DPC aims to add value to employers and individuals by minimizing the number of urgent care and emergency room visits, thereby reducing the overall total healthcare spend. “When patients are concerned about paying copays or worried about unknown costs of seeking care, they tend to avoid seeking treatment until it is too late and then they end up in the ER. With DPC, if they have a concern or even unsure if they need to come in, they can call, visit or even use secure email or text depending on the clinic,” Jonason adds.

“We believe when physicians have genuine relationships with their patients, quality of care improves. Timely care that values the relationship and is focused on the whole patient means that doctors are in the position to respond quickly and guide the patient to the right diagnosis, coordination or medical management as efficiently as possible. The hallmark of quality primary care is taking care of the individual, not the visit,” Dr. Dino Ramzi, EverMed DPC’s Chief Medical Officer states.

With healthcare reform, many individuals and even businesses opted for plans with higher deductibles in order to secure lower premiums. Direct primary care serves those with high deductible plans to manage their day to day health, knowing their insurance is in place should they require more extensive care. The trend across the country is to increase individual out-of-pocket expenses. This trend is unlikely to reverse, but DPC makes those expenses more budget-friendly.

“We have had a number of members who purchased a Bronze plan through the exchange but signed up for DPC to take care of their more common needs, assuming they wouldn’t hit their deductible. We have had several taking part in Christian medical share programs that also saw DPC as a way to bridge the gap,” Sjostrom shares.

“Our most common membership, though, has been through employers with self-funded medical plans. They see DPC as a fixed variable in their annual medical cost plan while serving as a way to manage costly medical interactions by avoiding unnecessary Urgent Care an Emergency Department visits.”

How do businesses and individuals enroll in EverMed DPC? “Members can enroll directly through our website or 800 number, but we strongly encourage prospective members to learn more about DPC through their licensed insurance broker. Healthcare can be complex, we want to be part of a package that really meets our members’ needs,” Sjostrom says.

Direct primary care programs on their own do not meet the obligations required in the Affordable Care Act, though they can be a complement that makes sense for a lot of people and companies seeking for a solution that provides real healthcare value.

“No copays, no deductibles, the smallest administrative burden…with EverMed DPC, we return the focus of healthcare to the patient,” Sjostrom adds.

Meanwhile PanZoe‘s efforts to raise funds for a national giving effort for DPC is going strong as we apply again to the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington.

Health Risk and Pleasure

I thought I would post this one from The Physician Executive because Val was once my favorite internet buddy. My Canadian ex-compatriate is now remarried and has moved to South Carolina. But one thing has not changed: the timeless notion that people somehow view healthcare as a way to dodge the consequences of overindulging their little pleasures. In this case we are talking about something relatively innocent: unpasteurized dairy consumption. Our health officer in Clark County gets upset every time he hears about another place selling raw milk in Clark County. The latest I found was Camas Produce selling raw goat’s milk.

It’s easy to condemn the practice of consuming raw dairy on its scientific basis. Trouble is I love artisanal French cheeses. Many are raw and were outlawed int he US at the time this post was written in 2007. I am a happy camper now that I can get unpasteurized cheese. I hope Dr. Melnick will forgive me this one indulgence.

 

Dr. Val at the Voice of Reason posted an article on the hazards of raw milk. She grew up on a dairy farm, so her observations are particularly cogent. The article raised two questions in my mind.

First, our clinic’s practice is heavily Latino, dominated by Salvadoreans who have a tradition of consuming raw milk products. In fact, Salvadoreans consider yogurt made from raw milk one of the healthiest foods for young infants. My patients tell me it is usually introduced at around two or three months of age.

Of course, this goes against the usual recommendations for baby feeding in the US, which appears to me to be based on bowel maturity and propensity for allergies, as much as on healthy nutrition. There have been sporadic cases of bovine mycobacteria amongst Hispanic infants in our area, which is a stone’s throw and a ferry ride across the Potomac from Dr. Val’s stomping grounds (so much for anonymous blogs, eh?)

My classic and rigorous medical training causes me to carefully counsel my patients against the consumption of anything other than breast milk and formula for the first four months and to avoid raw milk products until they are old enough to choose for themselves. My cultural sensitivity makes me wonder if this is truly appropriate.

Yogurt, perhaps reserved for later infancy, is probably a great source of nutrition to have become an important staple in El Salvador. Culture is important to everyone who has one, and food and child-rearing are important aspects of culture. The documented number of infections in our County was 4 in 2005. Is that enough to intrude on culture and tradition, or can we just remain sensitive to the fact that these children are at risk an intervene early? I’ve never had to treat an infant with cow tuberculosis in their gut, but I wonder… I just wonder…

The second thought that came to my mind is about the French! No I’m not getting political… I just like French cheese. One of my favorites is Camembert from Normandy made from raw milk. Perhaps there is something in the process of making cheese that I am missing, but raw milk cheeses taste better and have been really hard to find because of the Department of Agriculture’s import restrictions. I just found a really smelly cheese store nearby and I’m in heaven. The first thing I asked is if they had raw cow’s milk cheese and the guy behind the counter smiled and nodded knowingly. He probably figures me for a connoisseur for asking!

Raw milk products have inherent hazards, but this isn’t like eating a puffer fish prepared by a novice sushi chef.

Just wondering…

A Splintered House

This is the text of a speech I gave to the Clark County Medical Society’s New Physician Reception in 2013.

Thank you to our sponsors and guests, to the Board of the CCMS and especially to each of you for coming. To all the new physicians; welcome to Clark County and to the medical society. I want to take a few minutes tonight and talk to you about our medical society and its history, my personal spin on what has happened to medicine in the 72 years since CCMS got started and how the House of Medicine became splintered. I would also like to talk a little about what our future might look like under the current and coming reality. Life is changing quickly for physicians these days.

“Clark County Medical Service Corporation” was established in 1941. The articles of incorporation, written under the name “Clark County Medical Society, Inc.”, were signed by Clyde B. Hutt, MD, as President and L.E. Hockett, MD as Secretary/Treasurer and were approved and filed on December 3, 1942. The constitution and by-laws of 1942 were amended on May 6, 1947 and adopted by membership on May 4, 1948. The bylaws have stood unamended since the last review and overhaul accomplished in 1991. They have withstood the test of time.

Medicine was simpler back in 1941. The bulk of CCMS membership knew each other. The largest group in town was the Vancouver Clinic and it had four doctors: a GP, a surgeon, a pediatrician and an OBGYN. If you wanted to hang a shingle, you may have wanted to meet the local docs so they could tell patients about you and maybe put in a good word for you at local merchants and businesses or maybe the bank. The county medical society was a way to let people know what your special interests and skills were and this was the way you got most of your referrals.

No I am not going to wax sentimental about the golden age of medicine. County medical societies had a dark side: they were exclusive and closed old-boys clubs that enforced standards of behavior in a manner that would be frowned upon today. They focused too much on their own interests and not enough on the health of the people they served. Keeping an eye on the money worked well for the US medical societies, and their parent organizations all the way up to the AMA, until the first turf wars erupted. I don’t need to belabor strife within the House of Medicine.

At the turn of the last century, there was a tug of war in the House of Medicine regarding the need for specialization: Some thought that generalism was necessary to understand the whole person, others thought that specialism was the way of increasing the relevance of physicians and to provide the best possible care for individuals. This was all derived from scientific medicine and the notion prevalent in an industrial society that there was more value in specializing.  Sir William Osler, perhaps the largest historical proponent of scientific medicine was ambivalent about the notion: “[Specialization]’” he said and I am quoting here, “must then be associated with large views on the relation of the problem, and a knowledge of its status elsewhere; otherwise it may land him in the slough of a specialism so narrow that it has depth and no breadth, or he may be led to make what he believes to be important discoveries, but which have long been current coin in other lands. It is sad to think that the day of the great polymathic student is at an end; that we may, perhaps, never again see a Scaliger, a Haller, or a Humboldt—men who took the whole field of [human] knowledge for their domain and viewed it as from a pinnacle. “

One of the earliest specialty societies was the American Academy of Pediatrics, hatched about 15 miles from here at an AMA meeting in 1930. In 1933, dermatology, OB-GYN, ophthalmology and ENT were the founding members of the ABMS. 1941 marked the year that the CCMS was founded and that Anesthesia became America’s 15th recognized specialty. Today we have splintered into between 130 and 157 specialties and sub specialties depending on how you count them and nearly as many specialty societies.

I think that is the word that best represents the House of Medicine today: splintered.

But somehow I think that people with an MD or a DO degree after their name may share certain characteristics more than a similar day-to-day existence within their own narrow silos of specialty and employment.

Somehow I think that people whose primary role is to help patients navigate our current morass of regulation, government, insurance, corporations, pharmaceuticals, manufacturers of various gadgets and medical technologies from titanium hips to scribe-friendly keyboard operated EHRs… somehow these people who bear the primary responsibility for trying at least to improve the health of well-being of their patients (and by consequence our community) have more in common than their differences would suggest.

When I first got to Clark County 4 years ago, I set about charting a course to understand how I could personally influence the course of events impacting my life. I have a MPH,  so I was interested in my role as an advocate for patients and how I could impact the epidemiological measures of health. I looked at what my specialty society was doing in the local community. I found the impact was driven by individuals, many of whom were involved with the local residency. The point is that my specialty association’s largest impact was being felt at the national level and had recently hired a lobbyist at the state. At the local level it was not any association, it was the individuals. I think this is probably true for each of our specialty associations. We can do at least as well locally.

So I believe that medicine has a role in improving the health of our communities. It may follow that when we band together and work towards that purpose, we may have better chances of success. It’s a subject for another day, but medicine has a role. It must have a role if the industry is to remain relevant as a social good, otherwise, we might as well all quit and become bankers, because that’s where the real money is.

Don’t get me wrong, I proudly carry the flag of my specialty society, but the fact is that all our specialty societies are somehow vaguely inadequate to the grass roots tasks. Its not just primary care, but all aspects of medicine that are at work in this town, from the anesthesiologist and the gynecological oncologist and the cytogenetic geneticist. We have more impact as a House of Medicine united in this one common mission that we agree on than worrying about turf wars.

And the impact is felt community by community. A truism in epidemiology is that you need large numbers to detect small changes, but it tells you nothing about what happens to individuals. And communities are made up of individuals, states are made up of communities and nations are built on states. It all starts where you live and work and being concerned for the health of your neighbors and the people around you. The health of Clark County depends in a small way on each one of you. The health of Clark County needs you to speak for it and for its concerns.

One aspect that has helped the health of Clark County has been the role of CUP. CCMS has advocated and will continue to advocate on behalf of this local non-profit community-based health plan both because it works for the community’s health and because it is a significant employer. We were concerned with toxic byproducts of a recycling plant and successfully shot it down. At the state, with other medical societies, we helped overturn the rule that emergency rooms wouldn’t be paid if their services were retrospectively judged not to be emergencies. Physicians got involved to work with the DOH and saved them more money than they envisioned by their prior plan. We also fought the B&O tax which no longer applies to physicians in WA. We are now looking at the impact of a coal terminal on our coast as well as the trains have along the route, so we are supporting studies to clarify the impact and publicize our concerns. At the state we have also supported public health nurses working on STD’s, reproductive equity in the state and pushed for medical staff reviews that are not quite so abusive of physicians.

Only here in Clark County can you speak out about our lack of availability of fresh food in a wasteland of fast food. Only in Clark County can you do something about obesity in your community. Only in Clark County can you set up community forums to counter the vaccine objectors’ propaganda that makes us so vulnerable to epidemics IN THIS COUNTY!

I hope you each continue to support the county medical society, I hope you get involved, speak up, be a light for others to follow, be obnoxious if you want, just speak!!! And tell you colleagues about the society. You need to take responsibility for your own “belonging” to a group you believe in. And if the AMA or WSMA or even CCMS does something you disagree with, remember that your voice counts. Without that voice, it’s not surprising the organizations do things that don’t meet with your approval. You won’t win every battle in a democracy, but you will win some/ You will make a difference.

Vaccinate, Support Local & Subscribe

Our clinic, Lacamas Medical Group, runs a couple of free immunization clinic for kids in Camas and Washougal who could not ordinarily pay for their pre-school physicals and vaccines. The Camas-Washougal Post Record, supports us in this endeavor, once running a free ad and this year sending a reporter. This is a link to her story on the web, but they held back a significant chunk for the print edition i wish it had all been online, but I understand why they do that.

I think this may convince me to subscribe. It is a very good publication by the standards of a local weekly newspaper. Moreover it is local, with local news and full of information about local businesses. We can complain about the lack of ethics in corporate America all we want, but without supporting local business, like the Post Record and the businesses that advertise in it, all is for nought.