By Lexi Fontaine, Marketing Intern
Last week I visited Dr. Kay Ficht in his concierge internal medicine practice, Your Choice Medical, to discuss his career and patient centered approach. Below is the interview for the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce’s #portpeople campaign which is a weekly profile of members of the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry!
Lexi: How do you help bring health awareness to the community?
Dr. Ficht: I have been a part of the community for the past 20 years, and my goal is to help people better their health. I want to help people be more conscious about their health and make sure that they always have access to me. I never want to rush my patients, and I try to remind them that doctors are patients too, so what is good for me is often good for them as well. I ask them, “are you eating well? Do you exercise? Are you in-tune with your body and able to recognize when something is not right?” When I can spread this mission, it makes me feel pretty good as a doctor and to be able to contribute to the community.
Lexi: What are some of the ways people can access your medical care?
Dr. Ficht: We are completely accessible 24/7. We have no answering machines. Someone always picks up the phone. Every patient has my personal cell number and email address. They can call or text me any time even nights and weekends. We have an online portal where they can access their records or message us through the portal to reach me as well. To me, that is the greatest advantage we have: that patients can have complete access to us.
Lexi: What is the difference between Your Choice Medical and a typical medical practice?
Dr. Ficht: Essentially what makes our practice so unique is that we are a much smaller practice. We really see no more than eight to ten patients a day. That does not mean we work less hours, but it does mean that we have much more time with each patient. We typically spend at least an hour on most visits. We also guarantee same day visits and in-home visits. These are mostly for senior citizens. We will visit them at their house if they cannot make it into the office. We travel all over the Greater Newburyport and Merrimack Valley area, including but not limited to, Andover, North Andover, Methuen, Haverhill, Amesbury, Salisbury, Plaistow, Newburyport, and Plum Island. You cannot do this if you are a much larger practice.
Lexi: Would a patient get the same service in an eVisit as an in-office visit?
Dr. Ficht: We offer a service called eVisits. When people travel or are out of town, they can call us on a HIPAA secure and confidential network and speak to us as if it was face to face similar to Skype. While there are limitations to an eVisit, it certainly is deeper than just talking to someone on the phone, and is definitely a benefit to have. I believe this is going to be utilized much more in the future. The good thing is that when I have a patient on the screen, I can see their medical histories and can prescribe through it which people find reassuring.
Lexi: What are some of the specialists patients can have access to at Your Choice Medical?
Dr. Ficht: We are the only independent medical practice in the area, so that means as long as it is ok with a patient’s insurance, we can send a patient to any specialist. Whether it is for various tests, x-ray, MRIs, surgeries, or something else, we can send them anywhere they would prefer to go. With most other practices you must remain in-network, so that is another way we are unique. We still support local hospitals, but if a patient feels that they would prefer a certain specialist they have the freedom to go where they choose.
Lexi: What is a concierge practice?
Dr. Ficht: It is an alternative model for patients who feel like they do not get enough out of a typical doctor-patient relationship. There is a membership fee involved, but in return patients embrace many advantages over a regular practice. Patients can come in for an informational session before making any decisions. Many people wonder, “I already pay insurance, why would I pay you extra?” A concierge practice is for someone who feels that they don’t get enough time with their doctor, they are restricted with the specialists they are allowed to see, their messages are not returned in a timely manner, etc. If you feel like this description matches you, then Your Choice Medical would be happy to have you.
Lexi: How do you uphold your values of quality over quantity and patient first mindset?
Dr. Ficht: We have a very patient-centric practice; it matters to us if we are personable over ‘measurable’. For us the most important thing is the patient’s experience and how they really feel, rather than meeting a quota.
To learn more about Dr. Ficht and Your Choice Medical, visit http://www.yourchoicemedical.org/.