INDIANA: “It was kind of a blessing to have a go-to guy like that,” he said.

Doctor’s new ‘concierge medicine’ practice allows for more personalized care

By Taya Flores

patient guide book direct primary careFeb. 4, 2014 – When Mike Heide of Lafayette called his doctor for medical advice last year, he expected to leave a voicemail.

“(But) he answered the phone,” said 54-year-old Heide.

It was about two weeks before Christmas. His son-in-law, Ben Forth, developed a rash while in town visiting with Heide’s daughter, Krystin Forth. Heide wondered whether Ben needed to go to urgent care.

He texted a picture of Ben’s rash to Dr. Casey Pickerill, his family physician of at least 10 years. In minutes, Pickerill called back, asked Forth a few questions and was able to call in a prescription.

Within several days, the rash began to heal, Heide recalled.

“It was kind of a blessing to have a go-to guy like that,” he said.

Concierge Medicine

The extra service, availability and extended care to visiting friends or family is all part of Pickerill’s new practice, one that focuses on Concierge Medicine, or personalized patient care.

In this model, patients have access to his cellphone, more time with him during visits and can even see him in the comfort of their home if needed. After practicing traditional family medicine for 16 years, Pickerill has become the first concierge doctor to treat patients in Greater Lafayette.

“If I can spend more time with a patient, I can figure out their diagnosis without a bunch of extra tests and referrals,” said Pickerill, a family medicine physician with Unity Healthcare. “Ninety percent of diagnosis comes from (patient) history. I’m ordering less CAT scans, less MRIs. My patients have ended up in the hospital less. I’m able to provide follow-up to their problems.”

Concierge Medicine surfaced in the ‘90s as a backlash to tight schedules created by pressure from insurance companies to keep patient volumes high. It has a variety of names including private medicine, direct primary care or personalized medicine.

Supporters say it allows doctors to spend more time with patients, provide easier access and better preventive care. However, critics claim it can exclude patients and is a form of elitist health care, available only for the wealthy.

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