Ponte Vedra based physician Dr. Eva Nasi has her sights set on shaking up the health care system with the opening of PremierCare MD, a direct primary care service providing a viable alternative to the frustrations of traditional medical practices.
The premise of the direct primary care model (DPC), a movement Nasi says is fronted by Atlas MD in Wichita, Kansas, gives individuals and families an alternative to traditional doctor’s office visits. The concierge model works by forgoing the fee for service arrangements typically made through insurance companies. Patients instead pay fees periodically that cover most services -- things like checkups, labs and simple consultative services -- that could be made difficult or unaffordable.
Uneasy with how little attention she could afford each patient while seeing upwards of 20 per day, and frustrated by time-consuming paperwork and patients being blindsided by fees incurred by insurance, Nasi began looking to the model after growing unsatisfied with the traditional healthcare system.
“I just thought to myself … this is not the way that healthcare should work,” Nasi recalled. “I felt rushed, my patients felt rushed … there’s no time to give them proper care. It didn’t sit well with me.”
Making the change
Having become impatient with a traditional system she believed was “broken,” Nasi decided to open a new medical practice of her own by turning to the growing field of DPC healthcare that she had been considering for years.
“After doing the research and talking to other doctors who’d embraced the model, I decided to take that leap,” she said of founding PremierCare MD almost three months ago. “I think it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
The difference, she says, was astonishing.
According to Nasi, doctors at traditional fee-for-service practices must see between 2,500 and 3,000 patients, which can make it difficult to get an appointment at all. That frustration is compounded for both doctor and patient when patients are required to attend appointments needlessly – to review lab work that returned with normal results, for example – when a simple call or email might have sufficed.
At PremierCare MD, the doctor is limited to 400 to 500 patients and is accessible by phone, email and even “virtual visits.” Priced between $19 and $69 per month, Nasi says patients are afforded the flexibility of home and office visits, discounted lab work, affordable prescriptions and a doctor they can contact directly. And though Nasi still recommends that patients continue to have catastrophic health insurance for major hospital visits and surgeries, she feels a DPC membership could save them money in premium health care costs.
It’s a model of considerable growth, one that Nasi says is projected to grow 25 percent in the coming years. The alternative gives the patient the power to make their own decisions regarding their health at a cost that doesn’t make them hesitant to seek the care they need.
Better still, Nasi said, it gives her the opportunity to form more meaningful relationships with her patients and to give their concerns, questions and care the time they warrant.
“With this model I’m able to practice medicine the way I was dreaming of,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m a ‘third party’ with my patients. I don’t feel as if I’m working for anyone other than them. I can sit with them, talk with them, address their concerns.”
Nasi also said she feels she can offer things to her patients with PremierCare MD that were of scarcity in a traditional setting: things like time and, by extension, better quality of care, accessibility and affordability. It’s a system from which she feels everyone can benefit.
“Anyone and everyone who wants a tailored health plan could benefit from practice like this,” she said. “People with and without insurance, people who want to be able to reach their doctor anytime and people who want … care they can more easily afford.”
Nasi’s ultimate hope is that the DPC model will catch on in the Jacksonville area so that she and other physicians can change the system.
“I’m very passionate about this,” she said. “A little change goes a long way. This model just makes more sense, and with it I can show my patients that I’m here. They can count on their doctor.”