|By Taylor Rapalyea, Gloucester Daily Times, Mass.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Oct. 06–ESSEX — Candace Thompson, D.O., says she had a vision seven years in the making:
To open a patient-centric practice that focused on wellness instead of illness.
Now, she’s been able to make her dream a reality with the opening of Thompson Medical Associates at Thomson Medical Associates this past spring at 242 John Wise Ave. in Essex.
Thompson Medical Associates does not look like a standard doctor’s office. Thompson, as a D.O., or doctor of osteopathic medicine, took what she liked and didn’t like about the 14 years she spent in traditional medicine to create a spa-like atmosphere in her own practice, with calming colors, zen-inspired decor, and a view of calm Essex marshes.
Even the exam table is unusual — it’s more chair than table, is “barrier free,” and is accessible to wheelchair-bound patients and the elderly.
“The normal exam tables are so high,” she said, “I’m trying to think of everything patients would want.”
Thompson practices a form of “concierge medicine,” which entails paying a monthly fee — Thompson Medical Associates charges about $1,000 per year for the first three years — in exchange for more personalized care.
The practice has about 600 patients — a fraction of the 3,000 patients Thompson had while working at Gloucester’sAddison Gilbert Hospital.
or a local hospital. She believes this model allows her to make decisions with patients, and not let insurance companies dictate treatment.
“I feel as though I started to see medicine without blinders,” said Thompson of her switch from traditional to unorthodox medicine. “I started thinking that with health care changes there were things I felt physicians could do to make a better experience for patients.”
The downtick in patients also allows her to spend more time with each person: same-day appointments, time to talk on the phone, and physicals done by the practicing doctor, not the nurse practitioner.
Thompson says she also wants to dispel rumors that concierge medicine is only for the very rich — people who make frequent trips to the doctor may actually save on copays. She is also offering the traditional model to some patients, and has expressed a willingness to give a discount to those in need.
“I can focus on all the patients I have, rather than not really knowing what’s going on with all of (my) patients,” said Thompson.
“When you’re seeing 3,000 patients, you can’t take an active interest in trying to help them with their insurances, or help them navigate in certain ways, or help them call specialists. And I feel patients are looking for more personalized care.”
Thompson hopes to expand her practice in a way that allows patients to receive hybrid treatments. For instance, if a person came in with anxiety, medication may be the way to go. But Thompson wants to combine the pharmacology aspect with meditation, or Reiki therapy, or Tai Chi — ways to treat the cause of the ailment, not just the symptoms.
“I want (patients) to feel special,” Thompson said, with some deliberation. “I want them to feel that they’re not a number.”
Taylor Rapalyea can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @taylorrapalyea.