Taro Health conducted an interview with Dr. Lisa Lucas, an in-network Taro Health direct primary care physician.
Dr. Lisa Lucas: My name is Dr. Lisa Lucas. I'm a family physician, and I am the owner of Fulcrum Family Health in Freeport, Maine.
Taro Health: Tell me about your journey to becoming a direct primary care physician.
Dr. Lisa Lucas: I've been a family physician for over ten years. I practiced in the fee-for-service system through residency and worked with many students and residents throughout that time in the hospital and outside. So I have practiced in various different parts of the healthcare system and throughout the whole thing, I felt very disconnected to my patients.
At the end of the day, it's about connection and it's about humanizing medicine. I see direct primary care as a way to practice medicine where we humanize it. Again, we're humans. Our patients are humans, and all we're looking for is a connection. And to know who's going to answer the phone and to know that that person knows you and your family and knows your priorities and can speak to you on that level. And you don't have to introduce yourself starting from the beginning and telling your whole story every time because they already know you.
And that feels really good on my end and I feel like I’m helping people and I know it feels good for my patients. It's just a wonderful human connection and I think that's really what primary care is.
In the standard fee-for-service model that we have right now for primary care, physicians like me are only allotted maybe 15 minutes–where half of that will be for some sort of administrative time. So usually half of that time it's a medical assistant in the room with the patients, gathering vitals–which is important–but they're asking the questions when I, the physician, feel like I should be asking.
And so really I only end up getting about 7 minutes with patients and especially in primary care, when there's so many aspects to a person and every problem pretty much is a multifactorial problem. We don't have time for that. You know, we end up asking very superficial questions. And for that reason, a lot of physicians will go to the easiest way of treating things.
Physicians want to be able to talk to people and find out what's really going on, but they don't have the time to do it. So it just feels like a very superficial interaction.
What I really like about direct primary care is that I do already know them before I go in, and I also have time to address their concerns.
I have time to explain why I'm suggesting a treatment approach and not just giving them something. I get to meet them where they are and we get to have that conversation so that when they leave, they feel confident. And they also know that when they leave that room, if they have a question, they easily can access me and say “Oh, I forgot to ask.” They know that I'm there with them.
Taro Health: What is your favorite part of being a DPC?
Dr. Lisa Lucas: My favorite is when I answer the phone and my patients go “Oh, I didn't expect to get you in”-- and that just kind of warms my heart. What I really love is how respectful they actually are for my time.
So if your child is sick or you're worried and you don't know if you have to go to the E.R., it's okay if you interrupt my dinner, but my patients will never do it unless it's important.
Taro Health: What’s the biggest benefit of patients having a DPC? Why do patients sign up for direct primary care?
I think that patients really enjoy knowing their doctor. I think it is just really simple. They want to know who's going to help guide them in their care. They want to know why they're thinking, what they're thinking, and they want access to us. I think patients will understand they're not always going to know everything about their orthopedic surgeon, but I think they want to know about their primary care doctor because we're the first interaction that they might have with the system. We work kind of as translators sometimes, right? We help triage and get them where they need to be and help to know, is this something that's urgent or is this something that we can work on?
And is there anyone else we need to involve in their care? And they really enjoy that. They know who's going to be with them every time. And then if I recommend someone, they say they understand that that's probably the person. They should go with it because they know who I am. I'm not a random person that was assigned to them. I think the patients sign up because they are looking for that connection.
Taro Health: What makes you excited about working with Taro Health?
Dr. Lisa Lucas: What I think is wonderful about Taro Health is they're recognizing that doctors, specifically primary care doctors, are well-trained physicians that are going to help to be able to triage and to make that primary care and that first that first time that patients come in to be seen, they know that that interaction is going to be affordable. It's going to be a trusting relationship. And then they know that insurance has to exist outside of that.
Taro Health appreciates that this is a good model for primary care and is going to include that as part of your premium.
What Taro Health is saying is that physicians can handle this part. Taro Health is going to trust that if we treat our doctors with respect, they're going to treat our patients with respect and they're going to take care of most of the things that we know are going to happen.
Taro Health believes that primary care is important and is going to help patients navigate the rest of the system.
We, as primary care physicians, are going to first try to take care of things, if appropriate, in our office where our patients are comfortable. It lowers overall healthcare costs when you have a well-trained primary care physician that can handle 85 to 90% of a person's needs.
Sign up for Taro Health and get access to direct primary care physicians like Dr. Lisa Lucas.