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May 17, 2012
Edmonds doctor practicing new/old medicine
EDMONDS, Washington (STPNS) -- Dr. Kathy Upton is treating patients a new way at her practice at Upton Family Medicine, 221 4th Ave. N, Edmonds. And while the method of treatment is new, its roots are very old and traditional.
Upton has recently started a membership plan associated with her practice that allows individuals and families to make a monthly payment for services.
“It’s like a gym membership,” Upton said. “You just pay a monthly fee.”
Patients then have 24/7 access to their doctor.
That’s right, just like in the “good old days,” you will see your doctor when you need to.
No waiting in line at large clinics and no being rushed through to get to another patient.
Upton thinks her patients will get more “quality time” with her.
“This is a great opportunity for independent doctors to stay small and be independent,” she said. “A few other doctors in the area are already doing it.”
“This kind of practice is great for some people; you have my personal email and my phone number. Our relationship is one-on-one.
“You can call me on a Saturday night if you need to. By me staying small, you’ll get a longer appointment.
“And I’ll get to practice the way I want to practice. I’ll know my patients and they’ll know me.”
Upton has had her office in Edmonds for 12 years with a standard practice; she changed to the new model just recently.
One example of the advantages of this kind of practice is a younger patient who was recently bitten by a dog. The patient went straight to Dr. Upton’s office and was treated with no waiting. There was no need for a trip to an emergency ward, or the high costs associated with that.
Patients pay a set monthly fee, which is based on the number of people in the family. A two-person family pays more than a single person. A family of three or more pays the three-person fee.
“A lot of families with kids and working people like this arrangement,” Upton said. “You don’t have to take a half-day off to see a doctor.
“You can even send me an email asking me to refill a prescription. I’ll see it quickly.”
Upton can co-manage your treatments better, too. For instance, she can call and speak with a cardiologist, so she knows and understands what other treatments you are receiving.
“A lot of specialists have encouraged my patients to stay with me,” Upton said.
What you get from Dr. Upton is not bare-bones medicine – far from it.
“My nurse can go to your home to do blood draws and blood pressure checks,” she said. “We have a weight clinic, and we walk on Saturdays.
“It’s fun to practice this way. There’s no corporation looking over your shoulder.”
Dr. Upton’s patients seem to like the new system as well.
“Since we first became patients in 2003 or so, we have always gotten exceptional care at Upton Family Medicine,” one patient said. “What has changed is the ease of contact (same day appointments, email and phone communication directly with Dr. Upton). Now we always see Dr. Upton as opposed to several providers.”
Other patients who have made the transition to the new method are seeing the benefits, too.
“I'm a psychologist, so I understand the realities of the health care crisis,” another patient said. “Providers are forced to take remarkably low and seemingly arbitrary reimbursement from insurance companies in order to be preferred providers.
“If they are not preferred providers, the expense to patients can be prohibitive. But the actual cost of providing care is not going down.
“Larger clinics make it work by forcing efficiency standards on providers that make providers and patients alike miserable.
“So when Dr. Upton explained this model to me, I completely understood that she was trying to sustain a level of care that has become an anachronism.
“So while it is a significant investment, I was absolutely willing. My view remains the same.”
That same patient took exception to being asked about a “new” way of being treated.
“Actually, what Dr. Upton is providing is the traditional model of a doctor's office. When I was growing up, we had a family doctor who was our primary care physician.
“He knew all of us, tracked our care, referred us to specialists if we needed.
“I can remember as a teenager walking to his office after school for an appointment when necessary. He was a consistent trusted adult who we all knew would take good care of us.
“By contrast, what happens at other family clinics is that after a really long wait in an unpleasant waiting room, we see a doctor we've never seen before and might not ever see again. Chronic conditions have to be explained each time we see someone.
“It's not horrible health care; it's just not great healthcare, either.
“The reasons we chose to become members of Dr. Upton's practice is that we wanted to retain the wonderful medical care we have received from her for many years.
“We have three teenagers. We felt the accessibility, the continuity of care, and the trusted relationship with Dr. Upton were critical aspects of the medical care we want for our family.”
If you think this type of medical practice seems right for you or your family, go to www.uptonfamilymedice.com for more information.
There are fee schedules, downloadable forms and links, and all the information you’ll need.
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