I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Go big or go home”, right? Well I’m in Texas and we like to think that everything is bigger in Texas…everything except my clinic. I chose to go small. Really small. 240 -square-feet small. Yes, that small.
The idea had presented itself many times. Over and over again I revisited the idea of a tiny clinic. Not much is needed to see a patient. I remember after Hurricane Ike, we assisted clinics with putting partitions in the parking lot and using car chargers to power laptops to see patients who needed it most. Providers were armed only with stethoscopes and a means to document. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done.
Now, I’d like to think that my clinic is pretty, and I’m armed with more than a stethoscope. In fact, this cozy clinic boasts comfy seating, large screen for viewing EKG, medical devices for assessment and even some medications to be administered in clinic if needed. It’s designed to resemble rooms in the home.
More important than the design is the process is the nonexistent wait while in office. At my clinic, there is minimal waiting if any. I know, right. Novel concept. But how was I able to do this and other clinicians can’t or maybe won’t. Well, this problem was multifactorial, so the solution had to be multifactorial as well.
1. Problem: patients were over booked. Solution(s): Don’t overbook patients. But that caused another problem…
2. Problem: doctors are paid by how many patients show up and how many procedures are done – this is called fee-for-service. Solution(s): Use a new model that pays the provider a set amount monthly. I choose Direct Primary Care which allows unlimited visits (office or technology visits) to members.
3. Problem: People run late and throw off your schedule. Solution(s): Extend access beyond the clinic so that patients can get medical services without having to travel. Televisits afford patients this opportunity when appropriate.
4. Problem: People don’t want to come to the doctor until they have to. Solution(s): make primary care more accessible and restore the doctor patient relationship without having money get in the way. Direct primary care makes the doctor patient relationship less transactional and more personal.
5. Problem: It’s difficult to cover the overhead if we don’t see lots of patients which sometimes means overbooking. Solution(s): Throw away the notion that you have to have a traditional clinic run in the traditional way. Keep cost low by having a small space. Charge a monthly fee instead of fee-for-service. Meet patient groups outside of the clinic for counsel. Use technology to your advantage. Think outside of the box.
My journey into going small isn’t just for me. It’s for my patients as well as other docs seeking to truly connect with their patients. Really getting to know your doctor and having someone you trust at the ready helps you be at your best at all times. I want to show doctors everywhere that we need to challenge old systems of delivery. The current process does not work for many. We need a different way. Be the difference. Blaze the trail. Change the world.
Currissa Alsobrooks, MD
Family Medicine Physician
Bene Beyond Family Medicine
. . . Well Beyond . . .