Palmetto Proactive Healthcare in Spartanburg is changing health care expectations, medical bills and doctor-patient relationships – one patient at a time. Introduced in the early 2000s, the concept of direct primary care is relatively new to many people. However, participating physicians such as Jerome Aya-Ay, M.D., consider it a welcome return to the traditional health care delivery model of the past.
During his residency at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center, Dr. Aya-Ay first became aware of a breakdown with patients after their initial appointment: “They were not coming to follow-up appointments or getting recommended medications because they didn’t know how much these recommendations would cost. The financial business of health care seemed complicated and non-transparent. My partner, Dr. Chris McCarthy, and I wanted to simplify the process. Our goal became to make primary care accessible, affordable and transparent.”
Together, these doctors co-founded Spartanburg’s Palmetto Proactive Healthcare.
Direct primary care negates paying high insurance premiums, submitting insurance forms or worrying about lack of health insurance. Patients simply pay a monthly membership fee, which guarantees them more immediate access to the doctor; less wait time to be seen; more time assigned for patient-doctor interaction; and reduced prices for lab work, X-rays and similar diagnostic procedures.
In keeping with the direct care model, Palmetto Proactive Healthcare does not contract with insurance companies or bill on behalf of their patients. This reduces overhead costs because it eliminates hours of paperwork, a savings that can be passed on to their members. A patient-paid monthly premium covers office visits, in-house labs and X-rays. Labs that must be sent outside the clinic are billed at a significantly reduced price.
Furthermore, instead of the typical 15 minutes allotted per patient visit, Dr. Aya-Ay and his associates deliberately keep their patient load between 800 and 1,000 per physician, a policy that allows them to allocate a generous 30 to 60 minutes per patient visit. This extra time allows patients to feel less rushed, more valued and willing to share their medical issues in the greater context of their social and family needs. Because patient load is deliberately kept more manageable, doctors at Palmetto Proactive are also able to offer same-day or next-day availability for acute or urgent care.
According to its website, the American Academy of Physicians has endorsed this direct health care delivery model: “The direct primary care contract fee structure can enable physicians to spend more time with their patients, both in face-to-face visits and through telephonic or electronic communications mediums should they choose, since they are not bound by insurance reimbursement restrictions.”
Dr. Aya-Ay agreed. He and his associates have been using direct primary care successfully at Palmetto Proactive Healthcare in Spartanburg and at several other locations in South Carolina for 12 years. This innovative model has provided the solution to Dr. Aya-Ay’s original three goals by providing health care that is more accessible, more affordable and more transparent.
For more information, call Palmetto Proactive Healthcare at 864-641-7229 or visit palmettoproactive.com.