Houston Physician Dorothy Serna, MD Shares Her Journey to Lifestyle-Focused Concierge Medicine in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
FEBRUARY 2020 – A recent edition of the prestigious American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine features a fascinating look at the origins of North Cypress Internal Medicine & Wellness (NCIMW) in an article penned by Dr. Dorothy Serna, titled “Lifestyle Medicine in a Concierge Practice: My Journey.” She relates her increasing frustration at the lack of time to both fully work with patients on incorporating healthy lifestyle behaviors and sustain her independent practice in North Cypress, Texas, and the solution she ultimately found by making a change to concierge medicine.
As Dr. Serna explains, the models of care make an ideal fit: “Both Lifestyle Medicine and Concierge Medicine strive to provide patients with improved, quantifiable outcomes, enhanced well-being and a deeply personalized experience. The concierge model established at NCIMW in 2017 has meshed seamlessly with the components of Lifestyle Medicine (LM) and the ability to provide exceptional patient care.”
Dr. Serna also explains why she worked with concierge medicine transition experts, Specialdocs Consultants, to make the change.
“While some physicians attempt to transform their practice by themselves, using the service of a trusted advisor made the transition much easier,” she writes. “For NCIMW, the flexibility and autonomy that Specialdocs Consultants was able to offer throughout the process matched the practice perfectly.”
She describes how North Cypress Internal Medicine & Wellness has grown, and continues to grow, by appealing to a diversity of patients, who “run the gamut from those enjoying excellent health to those dealing with multiple chronic conditions, and from Baby Boomers who want to safeguard their quality of life as they age, to millennials interested in preserving their long-term wellness.” The common bond, according to Dr. Serna: all view becoming a member of the practice as a valuable investment in health and disease prevention.
The promise of a concierge/LM-focused model has been fulfilled on every level, she writes, with patient satisfaction scores of 5/5 for quality of care and 4.9/5 for availability throughout the day, after hours and in emergencies. Most significant is the impact on patient outcomes: “Many are doing and feeling better than they have in years, with significantly less medication needed.” She cites a number of compelling patient case studies, including:
- A middle-aged man who successfully lost weight, improved his blood sugar levels, dramatically reduced his daily dose of insulin, and completely stopped an additional, expensive oral medication for diabetes as a result of his active participation in wellness coaching and LM visits.
- A husband and wife, both older adults with diabetes and other issues, who were able to lose weight, improve their blood sugar levels and decrease the amount of insulin they needed by following the guidance of NCIMW’s wellness coaches.
- A 40-year-old female with a family history of diabetes and hypertension, and suffering from a swollen optic nerve, headaches and deteriorating vision, who worked with the NCIMW team to restore her health. Having lost over 50 pounds, vision and headache issues resolved, and officially considered in remission from pseudotumor cerebri, the patient said: “Coming to NCIMW was life-changing for me. I’m one of the few in my family able to avoid the need for blood pressure or diabetes medications.”
For Dr. Serna, the change to a lifestyle-focused concierge model “has brought real joy back to my practice of medicine. It’s a tremendous privilege to practice in this way. Concierge medicine provides the opportunity to fulfill one’s own deeply felt mission of caring for patients in a way that they need and deserve.”