Since wellness is a big part of the health-care equation, the office has a nutritionist on staff -- not a credentialed dietician, but someone knowledgeable about healthy eating. Cooking classes will be offered as well. Also on staff is a "health coach," whose job is to advocate for patients while helping them navigate the medical system. Members are invited to use the on-premises yoga studio, and there are plans for adding acupuncture.
In another "first," patients will be encouraged to contribute to their own medical records -- electronically. This is intended as an antidote to the feeling many of us have that our doctors don't always hear what we say.
Freelancers Medical hopes to set the standard for medical "best practices" nationally. "I want to raise the bar for others," says Dr. Patel, who has some experience with medical-care-delivery innovation. He's involved with a parent entity called Iora Health, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup that provides primary care to employees of Dartmouth College and to unionized casino workers.
Under the model he champions, everyone is supposed to gain: patients are healthier, insurance companies pay out less, and doctors get to spend more time doing the kind of humane medicine that probably attracted them to medical school in the first place.
Patel and his colleagues project a sympathetic openness. Whether this reflects a honeymoon period or if they'll always be this pleasant under greater pressure remains to be seen. For now, they insist that they're really, truly, open to input. Of which, one assumes, there will be plenty.
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