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Q&A: 10 Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask Your Doctor

Something that is always talked about in Direct Care is the doctor-patient relationship. But how can patients get to know their doctor on a more personal level? Asking questions is one of the best ways to ensure you and your doctor are on the same page and a great way for you to get to know your doctor on a more personal level.

Meet Dr. Kimberly Jones-Mudd, you can call her Dr. Jones. She joined R-Health Ewing last month as a Board-certified Family Physician. You’ll find that Dr. Jones enjoys partnering with her patients to help them achieve their best health, and prefers to take a holistic approach incorporating mind, body, and spirit when creating a plan of care. But, to ensure Dr. Jones’ patients really know her, we asked 10 questions that you most likely always wanted to ask your doctor, yet never did.

 

Q: How did you end up going into medicine?

Jones: My decision to become a family medicine physician was a calling. Those who know me well will say I spoke of becoming a doctor in elementary school. I looked at other options after graduation from undergrad, but nothing gave me the same fulfillment. I feel compelled to serve others, help people lead healthy lives, and provide the assistance to help with healing when illness occurs.

 

Q: What would you be doing if you hadn’t gone into medicine?

Jones: I’d probably considered law. I was a Political Science Major.

 

Q: What job would you be terrible at?

Jones: IT, research, or anything that lacks day-to-day human interaction.

 

Q: What is one stereotype about doctors that you’d like to put to rest?

Jones: I would like people to know that not all physicians are judgemental and while we act as guides in offering care, the patient has autonomy in making decisions.

 

Q: What is your favorite TV show?

Jones: All things Hallmark. If someone were to turn on my TV at any given point, it would most likely be on the Hallmark Channel.

 

Q: What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?

Jones: I wouldn’t call it a hobby, but I have always wanted to learn sign language.

 

Q: Do you have any pets or kids?

Jones: I have a 6-year-old daughter and a dog.

 

Q: How different was your life one year ago?

Jones: My life has been stable since my daughter was born. It just gets busier in juggling her extracurricular activities.

 

Q: What are you most likely to become famous for?

Jones: I have no desire to be famous. However, I hope when people think of me, professionally and personally, they see my desire to help others as the thing that motivates me.

 

Q: Who inspires you to be better?

Jones: My daughter, because I want to serve as a role model for her.

 

To learn more about Dr. Jones, visit https://www.r-health.md/dr-jones/.

Primary Care Isn’t Secondary

Primary care matters, plain and simple. Though in recent years it seems to be undervalued, primary care remains in fact a central part of everyone’s long-term health. How big of a role? According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), areas with higher concentrations of primary care physicians are linked to lower death rates for cancer, heart disease, and stroke, while also leading to lower level of hospital admissions.

Primary care also helps lower the costs healthcare presents. In addition to fewer hospitalizations, there’s less duplication of treatment as well as better use of technology, all cumulating into 33% lower healthcare related costs.

Primary care reinforces the doctor-patient relationship allowing for a “continuity of care.”  You’re able to establish a relationship and build upon it year after year while receiving tangible benefits like acute, chronic, and preventive care, along with a wide range of other services. R-Health’s Direct Care Model allows for this multi-faceted, consistent approach.

  • Family Care – We’re able to see and treat family members of all ages. Having this continuity and trust allows the full scope of one’s health to put into context, especially how it may relate to the rest of the family. Having a strong relationship within the family helps the doctors with insight knowledge, given them understanding on health patterns that you may be facing, and can even save you from unnecessary tests.
  • Unlimited Access – Having a doctor to take care of the family is great, unless they’re unavailable. That’s not a problem with R-Health’s Direct Care model due to the 24/7 unlimited access available for patients to their doctors. Phone calls, a secure mobile app, and a member portal are just a few of the ways you’re able to stay in contact with your doctor no matter where you’re at.
  • Convenience – Not only are there no co-pays, but with the use of our data and technology systems, coupled with the care coordination, we remove the barriers to the doctors and our doctors help members navigate a complex health care system seamlessly.

Great primary care allows you to see the bigger picture. A doctor who can take care of all your needs, both long-term and short-term. And a model of healthcare that saves costs, but not at the expense of the doctor-patient relationship or the diverse health network that’s available.

Open Dialogue with your Doctor

Questions. A fundamental aspect of any conversation. Asking questions can help you feel at ease and bring clarity to any discussion. And one person you’ll really want to be sure that you’re asking questions of is your doctor.

While we previously discussed the role of patient engagement, asking your doctor questions is a continuation of that conversation. While R-Health doctors have the patient’s best interest in mind, sometimes messages can be lost in translation, or otherwise misconstrued, which is why questions are needed for clarity. Too often patients go along with a plan without having a full understanding, which can ultimately cause the plan to fail. Thus, TIME provided a list of things you should be asking your doctor.

  1. “What are the different treatment options?” – Regardless of your condition, there should be a shared decision-making process about your options.
  2. “What outcome should I expect?” – Knowing outcomes may impact your decision on moving forward with a treatment and/or which option to choose.
  3. “Do we have to do this now, or can we revisit later?” – Gives your doctor more time to consider the severity of an ailment, which may halt pre-mature action. Some health issues work themselves out with time. Others need to be addressed sooner.
  4. “Is there anything I can do on my own to improve my condition?” – Making changes to your lifestyle can be very important. If you treat your body correctly, it pays you back with good health.
  5. “What are the side effects?” – Patients should know of possible side effects ahead of time so they can factor them into their decision-making on the course of treatment and/or what to expect from it.
  6. “How will I hear about my test results?” – If not explicitly stated, it’s important for the patient to know how they will receive test results to prevent uncertainty and anxiety.
  7. “How much will this cost me?” – There are many uncertainties regarding cost due to insurance, different tests or medications, etc. Therefore, it’s important to ask in order to financially prepare for that commitment.
  8. “What questions haven’t I asked that I should have? – Sometimes amid asking your doctor questions, he or she may forget to mention a discussion topic they wanted to introduce. Therefore, this question can help serve as a reminder for the doctor, and get you more information.

Questions don’t always have to be this heavy. But at R-Health, we want to foster an opening and trusting dialogue between our doctors and patients. Take the initiative. Ask for help. Get your questions answered. You have tremendous access to your R-Health doctor, whether by phone, email or other electronic media.  Your R-Health team is willing and able to answer any questions you may have.

The Truth About Menopause

Randi Protter, MD, FACP, NCMP

Menopause is natural and normal.  And sometimes so, so unpleasant. For many women, it’s also a bonding time – we wink when a colleague in a meeting deftly converts her handout to a make-shift fan, or when she peels off her cardigan to reveal a sleeveless top, regardless of the season.  The sisterhood unites when we glisten (we don’t sweat…)

Some women sail through, other women suffer.  There’s folklore and wives’ tales.  But what do we really know?  Lots!  And here is some info to help keep it real:

The average age of menopause in our country is 52.  Patients often ask for a hormone blood test to see if they are in perimenopause or menopause.  There is usually no need for this.  A woman’s hormonal status is determined by her monthly cycle history.  In perimenopause, women commonly notice changes in their monthly cycle years before their last and final period.  Sometimes there will be monthly skips, followed by months of regularity. Sometimes cycles will get closer together, and then further and further apart.  A woman is in the menopause when there has been no bleeding at all – not even one drop – for a full year.  If there is one drop of blood on day 364, the clock resets, and we wait for another full year.

Patients most commonly will seek treatment for the most annoying symptoms – hot flashes and night sweats.  Also top on the list – vaginal dryness, painful sex, insomnia, and weight gain.

Not every woman has symptoms associated with menopause, but for those women who do have symptoms, treatment is only indicated if the symptoms are bothersome.  Maintaining a normal weight, regular exercise, and quitting smoking (if applicable) may provide some relief of mild hot flashes.

Treatment for bothersome menopause symptoms should be customized, based on symptoms, coexisting medical conditions, and concurrent use of medications/herbs/supplements.    We have many non-hormonal and hormonal options, and many different ways to deliver the medication – oral, topical (patch, creams, gels, sprays, etc), and vaginal (creams, tablets, and rings).

The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) is a great menopause resource.

If you are having bothersome menopausal symptoms, discuss them with your R-Health doctor – some specialize in menopause medicine – they can help you through this sometimes challenging transition.

Be Responsible, Be Safe, Be Aware

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a time to spread awareness about alcohol, alcoholism, and recovery. This month and movement not only serves as general awareness, but an opportunity for individuals to seek counsel and treatment with no judgment. Awareness has grown so much that the National Institution of Health started National Alcohol Screening Day, which is held every year on the Thursday of the first full week of April, allowing for free screenings of one’s alcohol usage.

Alcohol intake isn’t bad; however, excessive levels of consumption are very problematic and cause serious short and long term effects. Some of these may include the following:

Short Term

  • Slurring of speech
  • Emotional changes
  • Sleep disruption
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Temporary loss of consciousness

Long Term

  • Death of brain cells
  • Liver damage, which may result in cirrhosis (medical condition that may require liver transplant)
  • High BP
  • Memory problems (e.g. dementia)
  • Cancer of liver, colon, throat
  • Alcohol dependence (i.e. alcoholism)

While these effects are damaging they can easily be prevented when drinking responsibly. The online medical news outlet, VeryWell, published an excerpt on how to drink responsibly. Some of the main takeaways are:

  • Establish a drinking goal
    • Identify if you’re a suitable candidate for controlled drinking then establish a goal (i.e. Only drinking on weekends/events)
  • Calculate your limit
    • Discover your limit based on your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and keep track while consuming
  • Purchase alcohol in small, measured amounts
    • Don’t buy in bulk, purchase individual cans or bottles
  • Pace yourself
    • Remember your drink limit and coincide that with the pace with which you consume. Drink water and eat snacks in between as well.
  • Watch for peer pressure
    • Learn how to say no, and don’t stick around people encouraging you to drink too much.

As with most things, moderation is key. As you prepare for spring picnics and barbeques, always remember to drink responsibly, and most importantly, moderately. Talk with your R-Health doctor if you need help calculating your BAC level, or if you have questions on what’s best to consume for your body. Also, check out National Alcohol Screening Day this week, on the 6th and 7th.

R-Health Supports 11 Greater Philadelphia Practices Participating in Historic Public-Private Partnership to Strengthen Primary Care

Initiative Provides Primary Care Practices with Additional Resources to Improve Coordination of Care

R-Health, a leader in innovative healthcare solutions, today announced that 11 value-based practices supported by R-Health were accepted into the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus program (CPC+), a partnership between payer partners from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), state Medicaid agencies, commercial health plans, self-insured businesses, and primary care providers.

R-Health, through the company’s accountable care service division, supported 11 local practices to apply for the program and all were accepted. Each of these practices are part of one of R-Health’s accountable care organizations, Care is Primary ACO or ACCO.

These local Philadelphia area practices include:

  • Founders Medical (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Greenhouse Internists, P.C. (Philadelphia, PA)
  • S. Peter Gross, DO P.C. (Philadelphia, PA)
  • LMG Family Practice, PC (Chalfont, PA)
  • Medical Group at Marple Commons (Broomall, PA)
  • Mt Airy Family Practice (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Ninth Street Internal Medicine Associates Ltd (Philadelphia, PA)
  • North Willow Grove Family Medicine, P.C. (Willow Grove, PA)
  • PIM Associates PC (Jenkintown, PA)
  • Radnor Family Practice (Radnor, PA)
  • Ritner Medical (Philadelphia, PA)

These practices join the more than 2,900 primary care practices nationwide participating in CPC+. This partnership is designed to provide improved access to quality health care at lower costs.

“A robust primary care system is essential to achieve better care, smarter spending, and healthier people,” said Acting CMS Administrator Patrick Conway. “For this reason, CMS is committed to supporting primary care clinicians to deliver the best, most comprehensive primary care possible for their patients.”

Through CPC+, CMS will pay primary care practices a care management fee, initially set at an average of $15 per beneficiary per month in Track 1 and $28 per beneficiary per month in Track 2, to support enhanced, coordinated services on behalf of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries. Simultaneously, participating commercial, state, and other federal insurance plans are also offering enhanced payment to primary care practices designed to support them in providing high-quality primary care on behalf of their members.

For patients, this means that physicians may offer longer and more flexible hours; use electronic health records; coordinate care with patients’ other health care providers; better engage patients and caregivers in managing their own care; and provide individualized, enhanced care for patients living with multiple chronic diseases and higher needs.

The five-year model started on January 1, 2017, with CMS soliciting a diverse pool of commercial health plans, state Medicaid agencies, and self-insured businesses to work alongside Medicare to support comprehensive primary care. Public and private health plans in 14 regions across the country signed letters of intent with CMS to participate in this model: Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas and Missouri’s Greater Kansas City region, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New York’s Capital District-Hudson Valley region, Ohio and Kentucky’s Cincinnati-Dayton region, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania’s Greater Philadelphia Region, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. The markets were selected in August 2016 based on the percentage of the total population covered by payer partners who expressed interest in joining this partnership.

Eligible primary care practices in each market were invited to apply to participate in the winter of 2016. Through a competitive application process, CMS selected primary care practices within the selected markets to participate in CPC+. Practices were chosen based on their use of health information technology; ability to demonstrate recognition of advanced primary care delivery by leading clinical societies; service to patients covered by participating payer partners; participation in practice transformation and improvement activities; and diversity of geography, practice size, and ownership structure.

CPC+ is administered by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMS Innovation Center). The CMS Innovation Center was created by the Affordable Care Act to test innovative payment and service delivery models that have the potential to reduce program expenditures while preserving or enhancing the quality of care.

In addition to supporting the application process, R-Health will assist each of the practices in implementing and managing their participation in the program. This will include reporting requirements, data analytics, workflow re-design, and best practices for care management.

“The CPC+ program recognizes the importance of primary care and re-empowering primary care leads to healthier patients and better outcomes,” said Nancy Meisinger, R-Health’s Vice President of Clinical Performance. “We are proud to partner with these local practices as we help them continue their transformation to value-based care delivery.”

For more information about CPC+, visit: https://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/comprehensive-primary-care-plus/