Having a long, healthy life can rely greatly on the healthcare you receive and diagnosing illnesses in the early stages can have a big effect on health complications later in life.
With that in mind, finding the right healthcare provider for you or your family can be tough.
While you can choose to find a larger national or regional organization to go with, there are more and more independent primary care providers opening and people are beginning to wonder: What is the difference between an independent and a larger organization?
The big difference between the two is that decisions such as, how many patients are seen in a day, or how long an appointment should last, are made at the administrative and headquarters level. Furthermore, many of the decisions are not made locally within these large organizations. Independent primary care providers usually make these decisions themselves, within the very building of which they provide services.
Jessica Reeves, MSN, MPH, APRN, FNP-C, owner and operator of Our Clinic in Keene, explains the independent side of things. “I am a one-woman shop, it’s just me — so all those decisions are made by me. How much time I am going to spend with patients, how many patients I am going to see in a day, a week and a year. What we cover in a visit — that is up to me and the patients. This is something I think that is a key hallmark difference. Having the authority to make these types of decisions opens up so many other doors.”
After working within a national and regional organization, Reeves decided that she didn’t like being in a setting where she had no ability to voice her opinion about the amount of time and quality of visits she had with her patients. “All the things that I wanted to do, I had no say over,” she said. So, she decided to leave and open, Our Clinic.
“The co-production of healthcare is really, really important to me. Healthcare is such a personal issue and can have a big impact on a person’s life, so to work with patients is really important,” Reeves said. When it comes to the name, Our Clinic, Reeves explained, “It’s not my clinic; it’s our clinic.”
“When you’re able to have a little more time with a patient you are able to engage with a patient more effectively and achieve what’s known as a co-production of healthcare. This is where it’s not me telling you: ‘Here’s the diagnosis and here’s what we’re going to do about it.’ Instead, it’s my job to diagnose it, but let’s work together and determine what your goals are, and how you want to go about treating this. We’re not just putting a band-aid on things, which unfortunately is often the case for a variety of reasons,” Reeves explained of her independent practice.
But, you may be asking yourself, “how does an independent primary care provider provide you and your family with everything you may need for your health?” Having a smaller practice may not have all the machines and specialists available that a much later organization may have.
Most independent primary care providers can refer their patients to specialists and specialized services, like any other larger hospital. “There are plenty of things that are beyond my skill set or specialty where I would have to refer people out. Independent primary care providers do work collaboratively with other disciplines.” Reeves said. She used a patient who may need a mammogram as an example. A patient would be referred to a clinic that has the ability to take a mammogram, and then that x-ray would be sent back to Reeves to look over and discuss with her patient.
Many individuals feel like they may be unable to choose an independent care provider based on what their insurance company calls, in-network and out-of-network providers. But, Reeves advised that isn’t usually an issue. Some independent primary care providers are part of in-network and some are out-of-network. It really depends on each practice individually.
Reeves explained that she prefers to be an out-of-network provider because she doesn’t like the influence that an insurance company has over the care she can provide to a patient. But, she said, she will bill the patient and usually they can then submit that invoice to their insurance company for reimbursement.
Our Clinic also offers “pay what you can” visits approximately once a month. There are a certain number of patients each month that she will accept. “It’s important that people get their healthcare addressed and get their questions answered,” she explained. “It makes me feel good to be able to offer that to people and to be able to be a little more flexible.”
Our Clinic is located at 57 Winter St., in Keene. For more information, www.our-clinic.net, 802-490-3680.