3 Benefits of Being a Bilingual Physician

As a physician, being able to communicate well with my patients and their family members is essential. During a visit, patients communicate how they are feeling, what symptoms they may have and how you can potentially help. However, it’s not uncommon to encounter patients whose native language isn’t English. That’s why in today’s multicultural world, being a bilingual physician helps me connect more directly.

There are so many benefits to being bilingual but here are my top 3:

  1. I am able to form deeper personal connections. One of the advantages of having a primary care doctor that can communicate in your native language is the opportunity to better connect with your doctor in a more meaningful way; therefore, helping to provide a more comfortable experience.
  2. I can have a better understanding of the patient’s needs. Having a primary care doctor who is fluent in your native language can also help to provide culturally specific care by being sensitive and responsive to your cultural beliefs and traditions.
  3. We can form a stronger doctor-patient relationship. Being able to communicate with your doctor in a private and personal setting without the use of a third-party translator enhances the relationship by removing barriers to care.

Why I Practice Direct Primary Care

After medical school, I started working as a physician in a two-person practice with multiple sites. I then went into solo practice in Moorestown, NJ in 1998. During that time, I had a traditional fee-for-service practice, driven by incentives to see more and more patients in order to make more money.

As the years progressed, my practice grew, but so did the non-patient related issues that come along with our current healthcare system. By 2006, I was getting annoyed at the distractions and loss of time to truly focus my time on my patients due to the increasing bureaucracy.

If you know me, you know I don’t like being annoyed, so instead I started looking for a solution.

Here’s what I knew. I loved practicing family medicine but did not like the environment that was unfolding. So, I found my solution and in January 2008, I terminated all my insurance contracts and brought my services direct to my patients. And thus my Direct Primary Care (DPC) practice, the Institute for Medical Wellness, was born.

I grew up the son of a solo private practice family physician in Philadelphia. My father served as National Medical Director of Nutri-System Weight Loss Centers way back when it was an early start-up and through its heydays in the 1980s. I saw the hard work and forward thinking that needed to be done to move from a fledgling start-up to a true disruptive force in an industry. I observed this hard work and dedication from my father and took this same approach with my DPC practice.

Yoda from Star Wars once said, “Do or do not, there is no try.” The DPC system is about putting all physicians in a position where they can truly DO their best for their patients. DPC allows doctors the time necessary to really get to know their practice and to succeed in their professional life. In DPC you truly can Do, not just Try.

As DPC physicians, it is our job to create a practice environment where our patients feel a part of the practice. We want to reduce their fears that we will not be available when they need us. Patients want to know we are listening to them, and that we are there to help them when needed, whether in office, by phone, email, text, video, or even carrier pigeon. If we convince them by our actions, the trust we have then built up is immeasurable, which should make patient outcomes terrific as well.

And now that I am part of the R-Health network, I have the ability to bring Direct Primary Care to even more patients. Now that’s a win-win. Let’s do, not just try.

Steven Horvitz, DO, Direct Primary Care Physician and R-Health Direct Primary Care Medical Director