I'm Dr. Ben Hagopian. My practice is the Maine Integrative Family Care, and I'm in South Portland.
Taro Health: How has being a direct care provider changed the way you practice and how you view patient care?
Dr. Ben Hagopian: I'm able to provide a far superior service. Patients have direct access to me, which is really nice for them. I'm able to spend a lot more time with each patient, answer all their questions to their satisfaction and I can have a smaller patient panel size so that I'm not always feeling like I'm on a hamster wheel running between exam rooms and playing Whac-A-Mole.
Taro Health: What's your favorite part about working with patients and building relationships with your patients?
Dr. Ben Hagopian: I think that's just it– I think it is the relationship building. You know, it's really nice to have one doctor and one patient and that's your team. That's your person. I tell people I'm their quarterback for the healthcare system. If they need something, they should think of me and I'm able to provide that service to them.
I’m their quarterback for the healthcare system.
It’s the continuity of care. It's knowing that when one of my patients calls for something, it's fantastic to know their personal life story, to know their family story and to know, Hey, they've had this issue many times before. Rather than calling and getting an appointment with somebody they don't know to explain when they're concerned for the 15th time to a 15th provider, there's continuity here. And, I'm quickly able to address their concerns.
Taro Health: So what have you learned from patients regarding the way you practice versus what they're probably used to?
Dr. Ben Hagopian: It's a breath of fresh air for a lot of folks. I think they see the quality of caring and care is different and that this is a radically different approach to health care. It's fewer patients, it's more time with each patient, and it's really, truly caring about our patients.
Taro Health: What can you do with patients because of direct primary care?
Dr. Ben Hagopian: A lot of that is lifestyle counseling about how do I help people live better lives? And for me, it's usually not taking a whole fistful of pills every morning. It’s how do we get you eating better, not perfectly, but better. How do we get you moving more? How do we get you socializing more? How do we get you out in nature? How do we address your mental health concerns? I think that is most of what ails many patients.
Having the time to address those things in depth is very valuable to the patient.
Taro Health: How is your practice using technology?
Dr. Ben Hagopian: We're not a technology based practice, but direct primary care is enhanced by technology. I do a lot of my care via email and texting. A great example would be little Timmy has a rash. The parents want to know what it is and what should they do. Should I bring him to the E.R.? Snap a photo, send it and call me. I have a quick phone conversation with Timmy’s parents, and nine times out of ten, we can figure out what it is without anybody leaving their house.
In the traditional healthcare system, there's usually far more than one layer of communication between the patient and the doctor. Traditionally most practices will put you on hold for 5-40 minutes, then you'll talk to somebody, then you may or may not hear back.
I am the one picking up the phone and answering my texts and emails.
Taro Health: How is Taro Health changing insurance and how is it a good option for your patients?
Dr. Ben Hagopian: Taro Health is the first insurance company that is really prioritizing direct primary care, which I think is very important. Taro Health has the incentives aligned to truly keep people healthy. The model is trying to keep patients healthy and also keeping doctors engaged. Our current system incentivizes sick care and disease. Taro has their heart's in the right place. They're trying to do it by building the foundation of primary care first and foremost which is the most important building block for an excellent health system.
Sign up for Dr. Ben Hagopian by choosing a Taro Health plan when open enrollment starts on November 1st.