Patients of Associates MD in Florida are receiving a level of care unprecedented, but somewhat reminiscent of an age where communities were much smaller and relationships were truly built on contribution, trust and expectation.
As cities have expanded, the relationships with people in communities have diminished to familiar faces at best without knowing the names or families of the people transacting services. Community healthcare has certainly been infected by this evolution, placing most patients in a situation where they are talking to people they have never met about personal issues, needs and needs for resolutions. Many patients feel that their doctor’s office is a cold, clinical environment, noting a distance between patient and staff which places uncertainty between the patients and their healthcare providers. This uncertainty is exactly what Associated MD CEO Felipe Lafratta has eliminated, bringing a level of personalized customer care that solves patients’ issues immediately.
Associates MD has piloted a program where patients have a one-stop call or email and they are in touch with their super customer service agent that has a sole purpose of ‘tend to the patient’s healthcare management needs’. A non medical member of the team, the Personal Healthcare Advocate’s duty is to manage the patient’s needs in between visits with their Doctor(s). Further, they are always available to the patients which eliminate the frustrations often associated with patients. No more phone holds, voicemails, long waits for service or responses and most importantly, the patients have a real support from a team member that focuses on each patient’s needs for service, fully advocating for them!
“I wish they had this years ago!” said one patient in an interview with Medical News First Reporter, “This service is phenomenal and brilliant! I finally know who to call to get any issue resolved and its always the same person who bends over backwards to take care of me. When my Personal Healthcare Advocate called me and told me he would take the stress out of my healthcare, I cheered. They have not let me down. My doctor, Dr. Epstein, is the best and now my healthcare planning is the best and truly stress free.”
“The Patients deserve it,” said Mr. Lafratta, “Their healthcare is a personal, intimate relationship and to leave the rest of their care to strangers carrying out a corporate agenda can leave patients feeling undignified and frustrated just to get a billing issue resolved or to make an appointment or get a ride there.”
Mr. Lafratta indicated that he had been trying different methods for years provide a better whole experience for all of the patients under Associates MD care. Starting from a single small medical practice, Associates MD has 21 practices with over 50 doctors serving communities with hospital level care in a neighborhood office. “We have grown because of what made us special which was our relationships with the patients, said Mr. Lafratta, “We can’t lose that relationship because of our size. So I hand selected key people and told them to get simple: Here is your doctor, here are their patients, call them, give them your phone number and take care of them like they are your family, because they are!”
Interviews with the Personal Healthcare Advocates have shed light on another rare find for most and that is real job satisfaction. “I have spent years working for chaplains in some tough hospital environments which always left me fulfilled however this position allows me to genuinely help people and I walk away everyday with new friends and real joy knowing how I have helped people in my community solve real issues that day.”
The reduced burden on already over clocked administration for each doctors is showing signs of overall cheer in the workplace. Healthcare policy has increased the demand of administration for each patient and it is far more cumbersome and complicated than the old days where the town doctor kept the file and charts for each patient in a desk drawer or filing cabinet. Now there are referrals, billing and many documents that are being transferred and updated all within strict oversight and this can be quite taxing on a medical team. The Personal Healthcare Advocates are assuming the role of spending time with each patient to identify their needs and resolve them, utilizing the administration work flow.
This new system is a positive evolution in an age where medicine and policy are evolving rapidly, reaching out to bring the patient along with it, on their terms. With the Personal Healthcare Advocate, patients don’t need to learn the internet or send letters to billing or wait to make an appointment with their doctor; The Personal Healthcare Advocate does it for them. It leaves hope for the next generation moving into a healthcare system that will need to be able to take care of their needs. It is this generation, inside Associates MD, that is building it.