Remember house calls? Of course, you don’t. Nobody does. It’s a practice that died off decades ago.
Unless, of course, you are a patient of Dr. Steve Bills of TeleMeMd. He is not only open to the need, but is reintroducing urgent care on demand. Bringing health care to the patient instead of having to seek out (and wait) for attention.
In short, 21st-century medicine with an old-school bedside manner.
Experience Meets Innovation
“I’ve spent years as an emergency and urgent care physician,” says Dr. Bills. “Obviously things have changed. The biggest thing is time, on the part of the doctor and the patient.”
In essence, that change is a disadvantage to both. “Many systems have metrics about how many people you see in a shift, which is a nice way of checking to see how much revenue you make for the hospital system,” remarks Bills. Likewise, patient care becomes less personal and more systemized.
“It is easy in urgent care or emergency room settings to reduce patients to a diagnosis. ‘Broken arm in exam two; ear infection in exam one,’” states Bills. “Although this ability to see several patients in an hour is of high value to the medical provider, it doesn’t provide the same value of attention to the patient.”
This confluence of structure and need has taken time and above all personalized care, from both provider and patient.
Vintage Model, Modern Care
“When house calls went out in the 60’s,” remarks Dr. Bills, “It made sense. A doctor could see several patients in an office in the same time it took to drive to and see a single patient. This savings is cost effective and certainly makes efficient use of a physician’s time. However, that efficiency is at the expense of personable care.”
With today’s modern household, taking a sick child, adult, or even grandparent to an office poses several problems, including taking several kids with you to the urgent care clinic. It may also involve lost time at work for one or both of the parents in the household. What if the parent is the one under the weather? Getting themselves ready plus kids and then trekking to the urgent care does nothing to speed the healing process.
“The ability to first talk to a patient without them having to leave their house is a huge advantage to the patient. Many problems can be discussed and a treatment plan established in that simple conversation,” claims Bills. “In essence, via our phones or tablets, we can quickly bring an initial assessment to the problem and start a solution right away.”
Savings is the Name of the Game
Besides bringing urgent care directly to the household, Bills is striving to bring savings to health care as well.
“Health care is expensive, no question about it. One of the things I like to do is help patients utilize the power of cash in their health care.”
Certain medical tests form the core of how physicians evaluate a patient’s health. These tests are standard whether you are at a physician’s office, urgent care, or hospital.
“When I order tests, the laboratory bills me at a reduced, wholesale rate, which I pass on to the patient,” says Bills. “This is the power of direct payment rather than billing through the machinations necessary in utilizing insurance plans. The lab gets paid faster with less processing and therefore can charge less. That reduction can be passed on to the patient.”
Along with the pure convenience of having an urgent care doctor on call, the other advantage is budgetability. “With a system like TelMeMD you know, up front, what your costs are going to be,” states Bills. “Certainly there may be some additional costs based on testing or medications. However, your monthly access is budgeted up front. As a father and husband, I know the value of being able to budget without unexpected expenses to the household.”
- Telehealth Visits
- Eye Care
- Ear Wax removal
- Labs referrals including X-rays, Ultrasounds, MRI’s, Blood draws
- Prescriptions as appropriate
- Point of care testing for Strep Mono, RSV, Influenza, Covid-19, Glucose, Urine Dips, and Pregnancy
The Three C’s: Concern, Compassion, Comfort
“It may seem cliche, but I truly like helping people. That’s why I got into medicine.”
Bills fully acknowledges that the challenges of the modern medical system has driven medicine away from care and toward efficient yet unfortunately impersonal treatment.
“I want to put back in medicine what I believe are the fundamentals of true care: laying hands on patients, listening to their complaints, and valuing them and their time.”
By bringing urgent care directly to the patient, Dr. Bills has returned to the time tested methods of patient care.
“All of us in medicine wish it was a 9-5 job. Of course, it never has been. When a person is sick, all care seems urgent. When I come on the screen or show up at your door, my objective is to embrace that urgency, offer solutions, and help you get better. Doctors have been doing that since Galen. My desire is to be a skilled physician, a good neighbor and a comforting presence. In a phrase, to be a healer.”