Guest: Dr. Frank Ditz
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Frank Ditz, MD is a board certified physician located in Rockledge, Florida. He specializes in primary care and family medicine. His current practice is located in the Suntree area, but he will soon open a newly built state-of-the-art 8,500 square foot facility 1 mile away in Melbourne, Florida. Dr. Ditz has been practicing medicine in Rockledge, Florida.
Segment overview: Dr. Frank Ditz, MD, discusses being part of Signature MD Concierge Medicine and the benefits for his patients as well as himself.
Health Professional Radio – Concierge Medicine
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. Thank you so much for listening with us today. In view of the sweeping changes in healthcare known as the Affordable Care Act, many people are looking for options seeing as how healthcare is the law now. Is compliance with the law a justification for basically getting less service for well in some cases more money and in some cases actually getting what you paid for even though it’s not a whole a lot? Our guest in studio today is Dr. Frank Ditz, he is a board certified physician located in Rockledge, Florida specializing in primary care and family medicine. He’s also an air force veteran, here today to talk with us about signatureMD concierge medicine and the benefits for his patients under this service. How are you doing today Dr. Ditz?
Dr. Frank Ditz: Very good.
N: SignatureMD concierge medicine, tell our listeners exactly what signatureMD concierge medicine is.
D: Okay, signatureMD is one of the oldest players in the field of concierge medicine here in the United States. It’s a national group of doctors with like mine’s that don’t want to treat the patients like veterinary medicine, they want to spent the time and to really take care of the patients not only for the acute situation, but also to prevent them from having diseases that we’d have to treat later. In the signatureMD model they have a network of doctor all over the United States at which we do cover with each other and have the ability to…our patients should they may be travelling. But the Signature actually provides the framework to which we can actually take care of these patients. Signature comes up, they actually help the doctor to start their transition from usually our busy private practice into the concierge medical program. After they’d actually will send their staff member to the physician office and they will actually talk with the perspective patients about the benefits and the things that is possible for the concierge medical practice. And actually helps the patient to decide if they would like to join or not. In the Signature program we have, it’s the called “hybrid program” where not everyone in my patients have to be in the Signature program, they can actually stay in the traditional practice medicine if they’re happy with that and stay with the same office and the same staff. So we’re not economically credentialing anybody, every patient that wants to stay here is always been able to stay here. But for the patients who want to go a little bit further don’t mind paying a little bit extra for it and it’s not that much. They join the Signature program and I think the rewards are great. In the Signature program the patient pay a certain amount of money and are based on the doctor’s location and of course the doctor overhead and things like that and how far they restrict their patient on. But the patients will come in and for typically my reaching patient is 45 minutes long. So the typical allotted in the United States spends 2 to 3 minutes with the patient and usually a maximum of 7 minutes. But my traditional patient every day is 45 minutes long, we have once a year or twice a year as needed, the patients have a 90-minute face to face comprehensive allotted visit with me that doesn’t include the technician time that get their weight and they do blood pressures and during the procedure we do. But an actual 90 minutes face to face, where we sit down just with me and the patient and or and their spouse and to go through all their concerns, all their worries, go thru all their medical problems, all their surgeries, their risk factors and also to do their exam. At the end of that signature program provides what called a “SMD lab” and MD tox labs where they give us the medium opening for a profile or labs that I think are world class. We usually draw a 9 vials of blood on our patient. And based on it, there is 9 vials of blood we can do specialized testing that a typical insurance company don’t cover, which will actually help us to determine which developing disease that they don’t know about and the possible disease they do know about and the risk factors for other diseases.
N: Are we talking having to be wealthy in order to afford it on a monthly basis? And my second question is, have you noticed any soldiers, veterans transitioning from well maybe VA care into concierge medicine particularly under SignatureMD?
D: Yes. As a matter of fact the cost of being in the Signature program is not much more than the cost of a latte at Starbucks once a day. So it’s not expensive at all, it’s in a $100 month range so it’s not anything that can be catastrophic to most people in the United States.
N: Uh huh.
D: So it’s not an expensive improposition or whatsoever. Insurance companies don’t usually provide any proposition or compensation for the patients who join the Signature program or for any of the concierge practice. They give their typical offices as if don’t pay for whatever they routinely would paid based on the ICD-10 coding that we have for the patient fund that is based on the
electronic medical records. And so this is actually an addition to their typical healthcare insurance. I do have quite a few patients when I was in the Air Force that have followed me through my entire practice and a lot of them have stayed in the Signature program. I have a lot of patients that have left the VA and actually they’re on Medicare and they love to be in the Signature program because again they have the time and the ability to see us. In the Signature program we’re quite different and the typical practice of, the only practice internal medicine used to have over on 4 to 5 thousands patients and so if you’re seeing a patient every 20 minutes. By lunch I was 2 to 3 hours behind.
D: At the end of the day I was 2 to 3 hours behind. So I usually didn’t get lunch, I didn’t get dinner, I’ll be called at the hospital, you have phone calls and all this things disrupting the time you did have with your patients. And that’s doing the best I can to take care of people. In the Signature program you limit yourself to around 300 patients. And so you don’t have that constant load, in a 45 minute patient load, you see a 5 patient in the morning and maybe 5 or 6 in the afternoon. So it’s, you always have room for people should they need to be seen which is actually a wonderful thing. A lot of them, they can tell something falls up, ask for care.
D: Especially if you can’t make the appointment, if you can’t get through the office, if no one answers the phone you get a computer, and then they don’t know the doctor, they don’t know the providers and they don’t know the staff, people don’t come in and that costs a lot of people their lives. In the signature program when you first come in all patients if they’re Signature or not have the 45 minutes with me. And usually I try to see what problem they have and try to fix them as much as possible. And I usually see all the patients again for another 45 minute visit. And then at that time they decide either if they’re gonna stay in there the Signature program or then on top of that, we have an hour and half visit for…or they want to see me in…
N: Uh huh. So basically the benefits of joining Signature for yourself and any other practitioners would be not only the financial benefits but also that work-life balance. You’re not being pulled in a thousand different directions simply by your practice and having no energy to be pulled in any direction at all in your personal life?
D: Oh it’s true. I mean I did actually let you do what I was, what I wanted to do all my life, from the time I was 14 years old I knew I want to be a doctor and I wanted to be able to take care anyone anywhere for anything that was wrong with them to the best of my ability and save their lives and I do that everyday. And it’s wonderful because I don’t have to sit there at the end of the day and say “What did I not do? What could I possibly miss?” That I’m proud when people look at my notes, when they see how…they are, and I don’t any trouble getting any of my patient in with any specialist because they know when those patient are sent over, but they’re sent over to do the right diagnosis and they sent over with my records which includes again 3 to 5 hours with them face to face time with me. So that the records are complete and they know exactly what’s done and also they can just practice their practice of medicine even if they are constrained to that 3 to 5 minutes that a typical doctor has.
N: Dr. Ditz as we wrap up this segment, concierge medicine still makes up a pretty small part of overall physician practices. In your opinion why do you think that with better care, more time that it’s still such a small part of the overall healthcare picture?
D: Well I think that a lot of people in the United States, not that we’re saying it’s improper. But they have this…last year that doctors are gonna be 100% perfect a 100% at the time and that insurance will cover everything. And so people watch TV and they think that a doctor can always make a 100% of their right decision with minimal diagnosis input at no cost. And that’s reality, the United State medicine at this point in time, they were be forcing into down with insurance constraints. And again I think we talked in our last conversation there are a lot of my friends here in Melbourne, Florida which also know if I talked to other people throughout the country they’re economically being credential by their insurance plans to see how much money they take to their patients, how much money they spend on their patients, they are economically credentialed by their own employers. A lot of my friends, we’re they are actually on pioneers they have beepers or timers attached their belt and if they go beyond 7 minutes they’re being reprimanded and fired because they spend too much time with the patient. Because in that case they can’t make their overhead. And the facility can’t go bankrupts by taking care of patient and they can’t pay their overhead. So again doctors they can go bankrupt, the group going more and more impersonal because in my former private practice I have a person actually answer the phone, that was important to me. Some of my time in the air force if you’re sick the phone should be answered by human being. Because it assures that we care and I need to know what’s going on in that person that’s sick enough to call the office. But then beyond that we have six other employees and we have to have coders and billers and of course we have to pay our overhead.
N: And once again if you follow the money, you find the problem in the system. Like you said you can’t make your overtime if you’re spending valuable time, giving valuable information or at least comfort to a patient who desperately needs it.
D: Exactly. And then the thing about the traditional practice of medicine is that the doctor can be only paid for face to face time, where in like an attorney that makes the laws, the doctor cannot actually be charging for anything except when they have directly with patient. So a lot of patient would to stay at work and make a phone call and ask us some questions. And a lot of patient would like to have us review their labs when they’re online and things like that when the doctors they can’t make their overhead by seeing the patient in front of them, they don’t really have the access to the ability to make phone calls and do telemedicine and do emails and things like that, which again the Signature program does have a lot of times to do that.
N: It’s been great talking to you today, Dr. Ditz. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. And Dr. Ditz has been here talking about concierge medicine specifically signatureMD concierge medicine, one of the oldest and major players in the concierge medicine arena here in the United States and hopefully we’ll talk again soon.
D: Thank you very much.
N: Transcript and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.com and you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.