Written by The Business Journal Staff
Aamer Hayat, Chief Operating Officer
Avecinia Wellness Center
What we do: Integrative primary care. We combine primary care medical services with alternative approaches to health to provide our patients with a more holistic approach to health and well-being.
Education: BA from UCLA, JD from Northwestern University School of Law
How did you come to your position as COO of Avecinia Wellness Center, Aamer?
My sister, the late Dr. Unaiza Hayat, started her primary care practice in Fresno in 2004 after serving as Chief Resident at UCSF-Fresno and working at a variety of other clinics in town. Her philosophy of care centered on treating the patient as a person instead of just the health issue or disease they presented. This philosophy attracted many patients to her care. In 2009 she asked for my advice on how she could better manage the business of medicine with her practice of medicine. It was becoming overwhelming and she foresaw the changes that were starting to happen that would make it more difficult for physicians to maintain a healthy medical practice and devote time and energy to patients. By that time I had gained significant experience helping organizations create and manage sustainable, profitable business models as a corporate tax and business consultant with Deloitte Tax LLP and as an advisor to many start-ups and non-profits. I was impressed with what my sister had accomplished and saw there was a great need in the valley for her philosophy of patient care. I suggested that we create a new business model that would allow us to serve more patients and bring in like-minded providers who believed in this patient-centered model of holistic care.
Why was the center founded, Aamer?
There are many reasons but the short answer as to why Avecinia was founded is because my late sister and I share a spiritual foundation in Islam, which motivates us to use what we have been blessed with to serve others. This could probably be best summed up in Avecinia’s mission statement: “Our mission is to partner with our patients and help them attain optimal well-being by integrating diverse, proven healing modalities with primary care/internal medicine and with a commitment to the highest standards of care, compassion and service.”
How is the center’s approach to medicine and health different from other local centers, Aamer?
Our tag line is “your partner in optimal well-being” which to us means that we want our patients to be just as engaged in their well being as we are — like true partners in any endeavor. Our physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other healthcare providers are more than just providers; they are educators and guides for our patients on their journey towards better health. We do this by giving our providers and our patients the resources they need to succeed on this journey. Those resources include; having a fitness studio on site so patients have a place they can feel comfortable exercising in and the instructors work directly with the providers to make sure the needs of our patients are met; providing alternative healing methods such as massage and meditation sessions; having a robust social media presence so we can connect with our patients and the community outside of the four walls of the clinic; engaging the community by holding regular health awareness seminars that give patients and other community member a chance to engage with providers in a broader setting; and utilizing athenahealth, our electronic health record program, to its fullest potential in helping us make sure we are meeting and surpassing health guidelines as applicable to each of our patients. We believe these resources and other things we do differently create a valuable relationship between our patients and us that is unique and irreplaceable.
What are some of the ways the center is incorporating technology/social media to help reach out to patients, Aamer? We have a strong social media presence including a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, and a Pinterest page where we post healthy recipes and such, and Twitter and Instagram accounts to connect with people outside of the Valley. This social media presence helps our patients and fans get accurate information and answers for their health care questions and concerns. In the clinic we have been using our electronic health records [EHR] system for the past four years and it has helped us address our patients’ health care needs with more efficiency and accuracy. We are always learning new ways to improve our care delivery model but we have been recognized by our EHR provider as a national showcase client for the innovative ways we have incorporated our EHR into patient care. As a practice, we are looking forward to utilizing patient health trackers such as Apple’s Healthkit and monitoring systems such as FitBit to increase our engagement with our patients. Also, we will be one of the first independent practices to join the Central Valley Health Information Exchange, thereby making the sharing of information between us and our patients’ other providers even more seamless.
What have been some of your proudest accomplishments with Avecinia, Aamer?
Some of our proudest moments at Avecinia have been; 1) helping our diabetic patients achieve an average A1C rate of 6.6% and 84% of our hypertensive patients achieving a blood pressure rate of 140/90 or better, which helped us be one of the first 400 practices nationwide to achieve Meaningful Use Stage 2 status in 2014; 2) opening our Clovis office in 2013 which physically embodies our care philosophy; 3) being recognized by the Marjaree Mason Center and the Central Valley Small Business Development Corporation as the Woman Owned Small Business of the Year in 2013 and 2012, respectively; and 4) working with a great group of staff and providers at Avecinia.
What goals would you still like to accomplish, Aamer?
Our short-term goals for the next 24-36 months are to grow to six providers and see approximately 24,000 appointments a year. I would also like us to expand where we serve by opening a similar clinic in Fresno and other cities in the Central Valley and build a network with other like-minded physicians and providers so our patients can have the best care through their whole healthcare lifecycle. Our more long-term goals include working with area business and civic leaders to create workplace and community health initiatives to improve the health of everyone in the valley. I would like to help everyone become so healthy that they don’t have to see our providers for sick visits anymore but can instead use us to maintain healthy lifestyles. It may be bad for business, but it fulfills our mission and is good for our patients!
What was your first job and what did you learn from it, Aamer?
I was a janitor after graduating high school and before starting UCLA. It was a humbling experience, teaching me that I’m not “too good” for anything. I also learned that every job, no matter how “simple” has a proper way of doing things and an improper way. It always pays to do it the proper way. Also, one day I can tell my children, “When I was your age, I was a janitor….” I didn’t have to walk 5 miles to get to school but I’ll probably throw that in for emphasis.
What person now or in history would you be most interested in meeting and why, Aamer?
I would like to meet a variety of people; 1) the prophets from Abrahamic religions and other faiths at a roundtable dinner to discuss spirituality, existence, God and all those great topics; 2) Leonardo Da Vinci to learn more about his inventions and secrets; 3) Ibn Sina, the 10th century Persian physician we named Avecinia after; 4) George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and other founding fathers to gain a better understanding of what they envisioned for our country; 5) my future self to see where I end up and what I learned.