If you’re someone who travels a lot for work or pleasure, or you just happen to find yourself on the rare trip, you may imagine a scenario where you fall ill and need care. You’re away from home and from your primary care doctor. You’re in an unfamiliar location where you don’t recognize the local medical options. This is a scenario many of us have experienced or at least have known someone who has.
What do YOU do when this happens? The most common answer is that you go to the local emergency room or urgent care. This may be fine OR it may result in a big bill or in care that is disjointed from your typical doctors. Disjointed care sometimes leads to patients being prescribed medications that cause side effects or interfere with existing medications or issues, which renders them in worse shape in the long run. If you don’t need to see a doctor at a more emergent setting, you may be charged a larger copay for having gone there instead of to primary care (even though you couldn’t get back home to do it!).
If you’re a patient of a Direct Primary Care practice like Direct Doctors, your scenario will look quite different. I’ll give you two examples.
A patient of mine was recently traveling to visit his parents in the southern part of the United States. He’s healthy so he never expected he would need medical care on his trip. Unfortunately, after a day of being there, he developed significant stomach symptoms and landed himself in the emergency room. He was admitted to the hospital with abnormal labs and held for two days for an evaluation. Throughout his stay, from the moment he was being evaluated in the ER to the point where he was a day past discharge and had some questions, I was available. I talked to the doctor taking care of him in the emergency room; I answered questions and concerns about what to expect while there; and, after discharge, I sent medications for afterward so he could have them as needed for the rest of his trip. When he returned home, his lab order was ready at the local lab to follow-up his abnormalities.
A second patient of mine had a recent trip to the US Virgin Islands. She had a history of asthma but only ever needed her inhaler when she got a cold. Well, low and behold, she caught something on her flight down. She called me in a panic from St Thomas, having some trouble breathing because of her terrible cold and wheezing. The pharmacist there could see her struggling but told her that he couldn’t do anything to help. She was minutes away from going to the ER to be seen and get a prescribed inhaler, when she thought to check with me. I was able to send her a prescription for an inhaler and she used it immediately. She texted me right after to say it had worked wonders and she was feeling back to normal (minus the dreaded cold!).
If you don’t understand why someone would pay an affordable monthly fee to be a part of our practice, this may be one benefit you never imagined. To find out more about this and how WE practice primary care differently, check us out at www.directdoctors.org.
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.