Personalized Medicine: Patients Want This Kind of Care

February 12, 2017

This doctor is learning that genetics, nutrition analysis, microbiome surveys, and other personalized care services is what patients want.

My new practice is all about personalizing care for complicated patients who are not getting adequate results with standard allopathic medical approaches.  These patients are frustrated because they just want to feel better. They also feel many medical practitioners aren't listening to them.

I see providing personalized medical care as an area of medicine that has yet to be fully appreciated. And the good news is that new testing and analysis programs makes it easier than ever to provide this service.

Personalized medical care utilizes the unique qualities every patient possesses to craft treatment protocols tailored to that individual.  DNA analysis for inherent strengths and weaknesses of each person (also called genomics) is easier to obtain and analyze since patients can get their genomics raw data from Ancestry.com. Additionally, web based services to analyze this DNA are popping up constantly.  Most of these services are subscription based. 

Also, labs to determine optimal medications for a person based on their genetic information are becoming commonplace and will soon become part of the routine lab services from the large lab companies. Who knows, this testing may become encouraged by health insurance companies to avoid the expense of the "try it and see" method most currently employ.

Another tool that I use is nutrition analysis and microbiome surveys. Having a patient's nutritional status as well as how well their GI tract functions is critical to being able to make recommendations for supplements and diet changes.  Without the proper nutritional building blocks, metabolic processes in the body will not function optimally. This can result in difficulty for the patient. Also, this information allows for patients to take only the vitamins and minerals they absolutely need instead of taking many things they don't need.

At first, it takes a great deal of time to learn how to interpret these tests. However as with anything, practice makes it easier and more efficient to create a detailed recommendation for the patient. And I have the patient return to the office to receive this information and it is a time based appointment. Thus the provider gets reimbursement for the time spent.

Yes, it does take a great deal of time to approach the patient in this manner. All of my patient office visits are 45-60 minutes long. My patients usually have multiple medical challenges which cannot be adequately addressed in a 15-minute visit.  Coding is based on time spent in face-to-face counselling.

I have also made the decision to go "out of network." Patients pay my fee directly and I provide the patient with detailed billing sheet that they submit to their insurance company for reimbursement. Considering the complexity of problems that my patients face and that insurance companies can be very difficult covering some of the more obscure diagnoses, I made the decision that I would rather spend my time with patients than arguing with insurance companies.

Most importantly, patients feel that I am really listening to them.  Each one is an individual with specific unique medical needs.  We all want to be heard and appreciated, especially when it comes to our health. It is very gratifying to me to be able to assist my patients in this way.

Things are growing slowly but steadily.  I know that not every physician can adopt this model of care but I assure you, patients are looking for these types of services. And if you begin offering medical care personalized to the individual, patients will notice and will spread the word.