“Would you like a cool cloth sir?”

“Would you like a cool cloth sir?” Hearing that question from a hotel concierge on a hot day last year as I checked in to our hotel was like music to my ears. Sure, I would have been fine without the cloth, but it sure was a nice “perk” to have a hotel worker (clearly dedicated to customer service) offer a nice cool cloth for my hot forehead. Whatever you want to call these types of special treatments – a “bonus”, a “benefit”, a “plus”, or my favorite, “the icing on the cake” – who doesn’t like “perks”? This universal desire for something extra or special is what has driven Our Family Doctor to create the “Premier Plan” for our patients.

The Premier Plan offers perks or benefits, that ought to be covered by insurance plans but simply aren’t. Can’t I just email you? We get this request from patients almost daily. The answer has always been “no” due to the lack of reimbursement for this service. Without compensation, we are not able to assume the costs of securing the security for the process, let alone the time away from patient care that it takes to engage in e-mail. The Premier Plan participation fee will cover these costs. The convenience of e-mailing with your doctor not only saves time and money spent on office visits, but will simplify and improve a patients overall care. Getting a simple response from one’s doctor could offer timely reassurance, explain a medication side effect, set timelines for improvement or expound on a lab result letter. It could help set up an appointment when the phone lines seem too busy, or check in on a fax or other patient request that may have gotten delayed or caught up in the system.

Recently I saw a patient in the office after a one week hospital stay for a Congestive Heart Failure flare up. At our appointment he said “Gosh doc, it sure would have been nice to see you while I was in the hospital; I know they took good care of me in there, but my Family doc knows me best.” Making social visits to the hospital is another thing insurance companies do not pay for. The time it takes to drive there from the office and back, and the visit, can easily take 45-60 minutes and therefore doctors are not routinely able to do this. Another nice “perk” of the Premier Plan is having your personal physician visit you at Mission should you become hospitalized. While we won’t be writing the actual orders, we will certainly be checking in and making sure that the hospital physicians and nurses are meeting all the medical needs of our patients.

What about when you simply can’t make it into the office for an appointment? Maybe you just feel too sick, are homebound without a vehicle, or for some other reason find coming to the office just too difficult. If you are a Premier Plan patient, you are entitled to two house calls per year if you live in Buncombe County. Whatever it is that you need – a sick visit, a routine follow up visit, a wound check – we want to be able to take the time to come to you when you are in a pinch. The costs associated with travel and time away from the office will be covered by the Premier Plan participation fee.

So whether its’ regular emailing with your physician, social visits to the hospital, or making house calls, Our Family Doctor would like to offer you the “cool cloth” of our Premier Plan. In addition to the great care you are used to receiving from your OFD physician, and for less than a dollar a day, you can have the “icing on the cake” as well. And for those of our patients who like their cake just fine without the icing, rest assured that OFD remains committed to each patient, providing exceptional healthcare and a superior patient experience.

Michael Weizman, MD