Because 15-minute doctor’s visits ‘just don’t work’
Dr. Jennifer Vazquez-Bryan offers direct primary care, with monthly fees instead of insurance and more time with the doctor
Published Oct 12, 2016 at 5:15 pm (Updated Oct 12, 2016)
GOSHEN — Dr. Jennifer Vazquez-Bryan is the first physician to bring an innovative method of health care, direct primary care, to the Hudson Valley.
Because more and more people are becoming dissatisfied with the traditional health care system, direct primary care is growing nationwide, with more than 400 practices across the country, including four in upstate New York and one in New York City.
“Direct primary care is a model of medical care when patients pay a monthly fee for service, rather than use standard insurance for payment,” explained Dr. Vazquez-Bryan.
As a board-certified family physician, her job as a direct primary care doctor is to manage all patient care, from basic needs to referrals to coordinating care with specialists, overseeing hospital care, and keeping abreast of home health care and rehabilitation.
Vazquez-Bryan handles all aspects of medicine within primary care from newborns through geriatrics.
“My practice, AltuCare, isn’t affiliated with insurance,” she said. “I collect a monthly fee to put the focus back on the patient. This method eliminates all the paperwork associated with insurance.”
Traditionally, doctors see 20 to 30 patients a day, with 15-minute appointments. A full day of work for Dr. Vazquez-Bryan is five to six patients a day, allowing one-hour for the first visit and a half-hour after that, except when she feels more patient time is needed.
“We are finding that 15-minute appointments just don’t work,” she said.
A doctor who stays in touch
Dr. Vazquez-Bryan, married and the mother of three young boys, had worked as a physician in a traditional medical office in Seattle, Washington. It was the frustration of dealing with time-consuming insurance paperwork, leaving little time for patients that brought her to connect with primary medical care.
“We primary care physicians really do have time for our patients because we’re not constrained by paperwork with insurance,” said Vazquez-Bryan. “We can stay on top of things continuously. Our constant connection helps to re-assure the patient. He knows someone is thinking of him.”
Her role as an advocate is especially reassuring for patients being hospitalized, she said.
Vazquez-Bryan routinely checks on her patients by phone, text, or through secure patient portal, with all medical information documented in a chart. With longer appointment times, she knows her patients, has a relationship with them, and tries to head off illness or chronic disease before they start.
The concept is growing because people — even those with insurance — like the convenience and affordability of this model of care. Vazquez-Bryan offers lab discounts for underinsured or no-insured patients and does the legwork to find the best price for medications for all. She offers phone and online appointments as well.
“I want to help patients save money whenever possible,” she said. “I have been able to save people $250 per month on prescriptions just by showing them different options. No other doctor is going to take the time to do this for people.”
According to Vazquez-Bryan, the advantages of direct primary care include direct access to a doctor at any time, upfront pricing, and knowing someone is there to support you in all aspects of your care. For example, she recently took two patients a grocery store to educate them on nutrition and show them how to make better choices.
The monthly fees are $60 per adult, $20 per child, or $160 per family consisting of two adults and two children.
“Some people get turned off by the monthly fee, but it ultimately could save them money in the long run,”she said. “They find out they are happier with their care when they have someone on their side.”
To manage health expenses, Vazquez-Bryan recommends carrying high-deductible insurance for catastrophic illness or looking into an alternative to health insurance, like Liberty Direct — a low-cost medical sharing plan that pools members’ money and shares medical costs. Liberty pays Vazquez-Bryan $100 per family, and the family pays the difference.
For more information or to reach Vazquez-Bryan, call 845-510-1870. Reach her online at healthy@AltuCare.com.
Her practice, AltuCare, is located at 682 East Main St., Suite 2A, Middletown, NY 10940.