Quick Responses

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My patient, Mary (not her real name) had markedly abnormal labs. I called her but got her voice mail. Great, I needed to talk with her, scheduling some tests to investigate the abnormal labs. So I sent her a Spruce message.

Spruce is our awesome HIPAA-compliant secure messaging app. We’re constantly using it, with patients sending us messages, and we are responding within minutes. In the traditional medicine world patients call the office, tell the secretary their message which gets typed and sent to the nurse, and so on. But with Spruce, people compose their own note about what’s going on, and they get answers quickly. We can copy-paste the messages into their chart. We use the app a lot during the day, but it also makes me, Dr. Herrington, available after-hours as needed. Patients will send a quick note with their concerns, and I can respond as needed.

Anyway, within two minutes of my sending the Spruce message to Mary, she called the office. I was able to explain my concerns, and within a few minutes we had her scheduled for the follow-up tests. She knows she can reach me with any problems… I’m just a Spruce message away. Aah, this is the Medical World as it should be.

The Whisper Game

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Do you remember the Whisper Game? By the time a statement is whispered down the line, the final message is laughably different than the first message.

Well, a version of that could happen in traditional medical practices.

You call the office, tell your concern to the receptionist.

* The receptionist sends a message to the nurse.

* The nurse calls you for more information.

* The nurse sends a message to the doctor.

* The doctor responds with suggestions.

* The nurse calls you again with recommendations.

* But you have another question, and it starts all over again.

What if you could have easy access to your personal doctor and staff? Imagine sending a secure message and receiving a response in a short time.

* You need to reschedule your appointment… send a text message.

* Your baby has a rash … send a photo and message.

* Your illness has not gotten better, and you would like that antibiotic you had discussed at your recent appointment… send a message.

* It’s the weekend and you have a terrible case of poison ivy and would love some prednisone… send a message.

At our Direct Primary Care (DPC) office, we love Spruce, our HIPAA-compliant messaging app. It lets us communicate easily with our patients without playing phone tag. Our responses are personal and much faster overall than communicating with traditional medical offices. Sure, people can call or stop by, but most love the convenience of our text messaging app.

Pure Posture Board

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I couldn’t help myself, I had to ask questions and give a little advice.

The patient was in my office for a Medical Marijuana Certification. He wasn’t my patient. But we ended up discussing his chronic back pain and what he had tried. I shared one of my favorite tools, the Pure Posture Board.

A few years ago I had met the chiropractor inventors of this board when I was at the Horse Expo in Harrisburg, PA. They said that once they had the patent on the board and began selling it, their chiropractic clinic visits decreased by more than 30%! Imagine being able to treat your back and neck pain effectively any time you needed.

I love this device. I used to get those kinks in my back or neck for several days at a time. But with this board, the pain is usually gone within a day. I have an inversion table in my basement, which I haven’t used since I got this Pure Posture Board. With the inversion table, I had to make sure not to eat beforehand (*burp*), and I would get a head rush, but it worked. This board, on the other hand, can be used anywhere, any time. A great tool!

Sidewalk Visit

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Brooke (not her name) was worried about her son’s injury. She knew our office was closed for the afternoon. An ER visit would be expensive and time consuming. She just needed some advice. She didn’t know whether she was being overly concerned.

Then she remembered Spruce, our secure messaging system. She had used it other times and had gotten some pretty quick answers straight from the doctor. So she sent a message.

I happened to be two minutes away from her house. After a phone call, I decided to swing by her house and check out her son. Within a couple minutes I reassured her that he seemed ok. Literally 10 to 15 minutes after the injury happened, she had her answer. And she knows if there are more concerns, she can contact me again.

Cost? Nothing, since it’s included in her son’s monthly membership.

I love my Direct Primary Care practice!

A Quick Visit

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A patient had a spot on her face she wanted looked at. I had her come into the office (same day as she contacted us) for a check of it and discussion of what could be done. It was a 5-minute visit and she was on her way.

Cost? Nothing extra at all — it’s included in her monthly membership.

In the old days of the traditional medicine practice, I would have seen her at some point when we could fit her into my schedule, tried to find a code to satisfy the insurance company so hopefully they would pay me for the brief visit, documented things in detail, and hoped she wouldn’t be billed for the visit. If she asked me how much it would cost to biopsy the mole, I would have no idea, since it depended on many factors.

In this case, if she wants the mole removed, there’s no cost for me to remove it, and we’ll send the specimen for pathology, using her insurance.

I love the Direct Primary Care way of practice! Working for my patients instead of the insurance companies!

Low Cost Labs

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We draw labs in our office for a small fee. Actually I draw the blood, and Sue processes the tubes. It’s funny, but I now check out those muscle-bound guys in a different way these days… “Wow, those are great veins!”

We get great prices for those labs, passing them on to our patients. For example, a cholesterol panel which might be $25 somewhere else is less than $3 through our lab!

And one patient was looking for a specialized blood test. She couldn’t find it for less than $260. We did it for $32. Another person had to pay $1000 for tests her insurance wouldn’t cover at the hospital – I could have done it for $110.

I’m loving helping people save money and have transparent pricing.

Alternative Medicine

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I’m amazed at how many of my patients are “into” alternative medicine.

I admit I used to think some of those patients who took strange supplements, avoided prescription medicines, refused shots, and spent their money on organic foods were… well… maybe a little odd and harming their health. BUT over the last few years, especially since realizing that Food is Medicine and that our modern diet is so detrimental, I’ve continued to learn. I’ve taken a couple Functional Medicine courses. I’m no expert yet, but I’ve been open to alternatives.

Now that I have my own Direct Primary Care (DPC) practice, I’m free of the insurance regulations so I don’t have to check boxes or make sure my patients are on certain medicines. Instead, I have TIME to spend with people and help work together on improving their health.