From left, Dr. Tushar Patel and James Richardson are bringing a new model of primary care to Fresno. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
A new clinic is opening in Fresno that will give employers and patients a different approach to handling primary care.
Set to begin seeing patients this year, Integrating Healthcare will be relying on direct primary care (DPC), the first clinic in the Central Valley to use this approach. James Richardson, the director of business development for Integrating Healthcare, said that the clinic will rely on self-funded insurance for employers.
In a self-funded system, employers provide insurance and benefits to employees through their own funds. In the case of Integrating Healthcare, a payment is made to their parent company, Wellness for Life-West Coast, and the employers in return are given direct primary care from the clinic, including free labs and prescription medications.
One of the advantages of this model of insurance and treatment, Richardson stated, is that with direct care, there is a reverse of the “50-to-5” rule, where a patient waits 50 minutes for a five-minute visit with the doctor.
“Our model…is that you have a walk-in clinic, there’s ready availability, our waiting time is extremely low,” Richardson said. “So you might have a five-minute wait, but then get half an hour, 40 minutes or more with the physician or the practitioner that’s in the office.”
With these longer visits, Dr. Tushar Patel, the CEO for Integrating Healthcare, said that patients can be better informed on their health and become more proactive. A private practice physician, Dr. Patel teamed up with another physician, Dr. Tejinder Randhawa and Richardson to make the clinic happen. Dr. Patel claimed that the direct primary care approach is a refreshing change of pace from the current model.
“And this was a perfect opportunity at the juncture in my life to do something where I could actually put into action what I was actually trained to do,” Dr. Patel said, “Which is actually engage patients, spend time with them without rushing them out the door and having the patients take ownership and control over their lives with my help and making them healthier in the long run, which is a long process.”
While there may be initial cost concerns, as the direct primary care is provided alongside their normal insurance payments, its proponents would argue that in the long run, the benefits can be felt in the employers’ pocketbooks.
“So over the course of a year, a self-insured employer that has one of these clinics it reduces unnecessary surgeries, it reduces doctor visits, it keeps them out of the emergency room,” Richardson said. “And then they manage their disease, rather.”
While not related, Dr. Tushar Patel was friends and housemates in medical school with Dr. Kayur Patel, chief medical officer of Wellness for Life, which is headquartered in Indiana. Integrating Healthcare will be part of the West Coast branch of this company.
Integrating Healthcare, located at 5043 E. Kings Canyon Rd., will be opening in the next three to four months.