Primary Care Groups Start To Embrace Online Convenience
As the nation works toward reshaping how health care is provided, the local private practice One Medical Group is making its doctors more accessible and appointments more enjoyable, reflecting on a growing trend in the primary care industry. NY1's Health reporter Erin Billups filed the following report.
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As Hurricane Sandy stormed through New York City, Amitha Raman suffered a major nosebleed, part of a recurring problem she had not had time to address. She was forced to go to the emergency room, where she got help, but not answers.
"I needed to explore what the issue is," she says.
With the help of her sister, Raman went online and booked an appointment with One Medical Group.
"The next morning at 10 a.m., I was able to get an appointment, which was really surprising to me, considering that more than half of the city was completely shut down without power," Raman says.
Her story is just an example of the convenient, personal health care model that is growing in popularity. One Medical Group is a member-supported primary care practice, an attempt at meeting the growing demand for intentional preventative care.
"At my previous practice I was seeing about 30 to 35 patients a day," says Dr. Ron Englert, One Medical Group's Regional Medical Director. "Today I see about 16 patients a day. It's quite a big difference."
One Medical patients pay an annual fee to be a part of what is essentially a medical club with Uber-like access to their healthcare.
"We're using technology as an aid to be more efficient in our care," says Englert.
Patients can reach their doctors via email, chat with the group's clinical team, or book an appointment through their app. For Raman, that meant seeing her physician plus a specialist, and receiving her test results within a 48-hour period.
"We're so used to doing everything online. It just makes it that much easier," says Raman.
One Medical has been compared to what's known as the "concierge model," which some criticize as elitist healthcare that excludes those who cannot afford extra fees.
The San Francisco-based group, which was launched in 2009, insists it is different – pointing to a cheaper $200 annual fee, acceptance of most insurance, and tech focus.
One Medical now has six Manhattan locations and plans to open more sleek, modern offices in the boroughs, and possibly extend its services to Medicaid patients.
"We want to make it comfortable and approachable and accessible to our patients and make it an experience that's a positive one, instead of a negative one," Englert says.