Healthcare

Most Visited Family Medicine Physician in Detroit

In February, HealthGrades sent us a note informing us that we had one of the most visited Family Medicine Physician pages on their website. 

It was really cool to see that we were in the 97th percentile nationally and the 95th percentile in Detroit, Michigan for page views on HealthGrades in 2017. I think this is due to our services at Plum Health DPC being so highly rated on the HealthGrades website. As of this post, we have 54 Five Star reviews on HealthGrades! 

Because of these rankings, our service is pushed to the top of the HealthGrades algorithm, and that's probably why we have so many page views. 

Thanks for reading!

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Direct Primary Care in St. Clair Shores

Last month, we were invited to a Health Care Forum in St. Clair Shores, Michigan with Senator Patrick Colbeck. We had a great meeting, with about 30 - 40 members of the community who are interested in the principles of free market healthcare that we discussed. 

Senator Colbeck has been making a tour across the State of Michigan, talking with folks in similar forum-type settings about health care and ways that we can reform our primary care system. The last Town Hall that I was able to attend was in Grosse Pointe. The aim is to deliver higher-quality care with better service and at a lower price. Senator Colbeck is a staunch supporter of Direct Primary Care services and he has proposed a Medicaid Pilot program at the State level for DPC services. 

Here's the portion of the talk that featured Plum Health DPC and the services that we provide:

Senator Colbeck spoke about the legislative efforts to advance Direct Primary Care at the State Level in his speaking slot, and to conclude the evening, we took time to answer questions from the audience about DPC, insurance, and other concerns:

Overall, it was a great event, with a great turnout and excellent audience participation and questions. I'm looking forward to the next one! Below are some still shots from the event.

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Where the Bike Lane Ends

When I think about creating an affordable, accessible healthcare service in Detroit, there are many factors that I consider. One of them is physical accessibility by foot, by bike and by car. How can I help to ensure that all patients and community members have access to the resources that I provide in my Family Medicine practice? Am I able to serve the spectrum of people with varying incomes and abilities in my office? What barriers do people face when trying to get to my clinic? 

Our Plum Health office is situated about 1 block from I-96/I-75 near the Vernor Highway exit. That's right, my office sits at the intersection of 2 "highways". Vernor Highway is not much more than one lane of each traffic in each direction, but the sentiment remains. We have a parking lot, there is sidewalk leading to our entrance, we are on a bus line, and we have parking spaces for persons with disabilities. 

However, there is one area where we can improve! There is a Bike Lane on Vernor Highway in both directions that extends from SW Detroit and ends in front of my office in between 20th and 21st Streets. This is unfortunate, because there are Bike Lanes going in both directions on Michigan Avenue, less than 0.5 miles away.

All I'm saying is that there's a real opportunity here to connect SW Detroit, Mexicantown and the historic West Vernor Business District with Michigan Avenue, Corktown, and the Corktown Business District. 

So for anyone in the City of Detroit, if you're reading/watching/listening, here's my prescription for a healthier road, healthier neighborhood, and healthier community: 

  1. Clean up the garbage that has accumulated underneath the Michigan Central Station Rail Lines and along West Vernor highway. I'd be happy to help with this myself or by organizing a group of people in the community to assist or get this done. However, we would likely need support with some bulk collection if we went this route!
  2. Extend the Bike Lane on Vernor Highway between SW Detroit at 20th Street and Michigan Avenue. This would be relatively easy and would make for a safer crossing in the greater Roosevelt Park area.
  3. Cross walk markings in the Roosevelt Park area. There are several intersections in the Roosevelt Park area that are not demarcated by cross walks. This makes for dangerous crossings for pedestrians and bicyclists and ultimately less connected neighborhoods. 
  4. Install lighting underneath the Michigan Central Station's viaduct.

Ultimately, citizens in Detroit face challenges with regular activity, obesity, and access to healthy food and parks. Creating an inviting environment for healthy activities by investing in Complete Streets at key intersections will be beneficial and will make an impact on the lives of residents in Detroit.

Sincerely,

- Dr. Paul with Plum Health DPC

Plum Health at Build Institute

This week, I was invited to sit on a panel at the Build Institute to celebrate their 5th year of investing in and uplifting small businesses in the City of Detroit. Fortunately, I was able to take and graduate from a Build Institute course over the summer of 2016.

This Build Institute Course allowed me to develop and solidify my business plan, make connections with fellow entrepreneurs, and tap into Build's ever-expanding network of small business owners and service providers. Through Build, I was able to be a part of big events like Detroit Homecoming sponsored by Crain's Detroit. I was also able to meet future customers and future service providers like my lawyer. 

On Wednesday, I was invited to sit on a panel of small business owners who have benefitted from the Build Institute's unique programming. It featured Lana Rodriguez of Mama Coo's Boutique, April Anderson of Good Cakes and Bakes, April Boyle of Build Institute, and Christianne Malone of Build Institute. 

After the panel, Steve Garagiola of Local 4 News (WDIV) asked if I'd be interested in an interview. I invited him to my office at 1759 West 21st Street, Detroit MI, and he came over with his cameraman. During the interview, we discussed the basics of what we provide at Plum Health DPC. 

I was surprised at how fast the turn around time was for the interview, as it aired during the 6 pm news on Detroit's Local 4 News. In case you missed it, here's the interview!

In addition, Kurt Nagl, a writer from Crain's Detroit wrote an article about the event and it appeared on their website on Tuesday. 

Thanks so much for reading and watching!

- Dr. Paul with Plum Health DPC

Plum Health on Detroit is Different

This week, Plum Health DPC was featured on Detroit is Different with Khary Wae Frazier. Khary is the founder of Detroit is Different, which discusses the rich cultural tapestry of Detroit and features the people and businesses that make up this great city. You can check out our episode on his website, here

You may know Khary from his work with the Motor City Match - he makes videos for the Motor City Match, featuring entrepreneurs that have won the competitive business challenge. Here's the video that he made for Plum Health DPC.

Here's how Khary describes the work that he does: 

Detroit is Different is about culture, and business makes up a lot of that for our city. The products, services, and the style/ process in which they’re delivered are uniquely Detroit. The gate of the Detroit River has welcomed world travelers for centuries. Today the port remains America’s busiest border for importing and exporting goods. I’ve always felt the best asset we’ve offered the world are Detroiters.

Here's the video before we went live on his Podcast! 

Thanks so much for reading and watching,

- Paul Thomas, MD 

Health Coverage for your Employees

With changes looming for healthcare in the United States, many individuals and employers are on edge and uncertain of what may come down the legislative pipeline. In my community small business association, in Corktown Detroit, a few questions were asked about the Affordable Care Act and the mandates set forth therein. 

Question #1: at what size does your business need to offer health insurance for your employees?

For now, if you have 50 or more full-time equivalent employees, you must provide health insurance coverage, or you have to pay a fine. This is known as the "employer mandate" in the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare. This coverage must apply to at least 95% of your full-time employees and their dependents up to age 26. Spouses are not included in this mandate. More information on this topic can be found here

Question #2: What if one of your employees already has their own health insurance coverage?

Employees with their own insurance plan can keep their current insurance plan. They can also cancel their plan and sign up with their employer's coverage plan. As long as you the employer offer coverage, you won't be fined. But, the employee can't get a marketplace subsidy if the employer's coverage meets affordability and minimum value guidelines. 

Question #3: If your employee switches coverage, can they still see their own doctor?

On choosing to keep your own doctor, you can still go to your doctor, but you may have to pay an out of pocket fee. For example, if you have NGS (or Oakwood Hospital Insurance), you are typically pushed to Oakwood doctors. If you decide to see a doctor at Henry Ford, you will not be forbidden from seeing them, you just will have to pay more out-of-pocket because they are not an "in-network" doctor. HAP is the insurance typically coupled with Henry Ford. Blue Cross Blue Shield allows for greater flexibility in terms of choosing doctors as it is accepted by most physicians. 

Question #4: How do you find services, doctors, and specialists covered by your insurance?

For finding doctors that accept your insurance, the easiest way is to look up the doctor online and see if they accept your insurance. Alternatively, you can call their office and ask, "do you accept HAP/NGS/Cigna/BCBS?" Finally, you can call the number on the back of your card and ask for your choices for primary care doctors or specialists that are covered by your plan in your neighborhood/area. 

Question #5: Our company has less than 50 full-time employees, We aren't making enough money to cover our employees with health insurance, but we would like to provide some sort of health care. What options do we have?

This is the ideal situation for Direct Primary Care practices like Plum Health DPC and many small businesses find themselves in this situation Because we offer an affordable, accessible health care service at a known cost, you as the employer know exactly what you're getting and the price you will pay. For $49/month for adults under 40 and for $69/month for adults over 40, you have access to our doctor and our primary care services when you need it. 

Question #6: So, under your plan at Plum Health DPC, what is covered and what isn't covered?

We can take care of 80 - 90% of your health care needs, including coughs, colds, cuts that need stitches, preventive care, and disease management for conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, eczema, etc... We also offer wholesale medications, at-cost labs, and at-cost imaging services.

What we can't cover are things like heart attacks, strokes, and auto accidents that are severe. For these issues, you need to go to the hospital or the emergency department for immediate care. This is why we recommend that all of our customers have some sort of catastrophic coverage plan that covers emergency and hospital care. 

If you have any further questions about what we do, don't hesitate to reach out!

- Paul Thomas, MD

The Importance of Primary Care

Primary care is essential to having a healthy family, healthy community, and a healthy society. You may know a primary care doctor, like your Family Medicine doctor, General Internist, Pediatrician, or Gynecologist. These are the doctors that partner with you to create better health outcomes. 

There's been a great deal of research conducted about the benefits of having community doctors or primary care doctors. In an article from the American Academy of Family Physicians, it is noted that "an increase of one primary care doctor per 10,000 people has been shown to result in:

  • 5% decrease in outpatient visits
  • 5.5% decrease in inpatient admissions
  • 10.9% decrease in ER visits
  • 7.2% decrease in surgeries"

Further, counties with more primary care doctors have lower healthcare costs and better mortality rates. MLive.com wrote a nice piece about the importance of primary care doctors and they even have a tool so that you can evaluate how many primary care docs are in your community. In Washtenaw County, there's a primary care doctor for every 598 residents. In Cass County, there's a primary care doctor for every 7,463 residents. 

Washtenaw County is likely saturated with primary care doctors because it encompasses Ann Arbor and the U of M Health System. From the MLive.com article, "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration has calculated that Michigan's supply of primary care physicians meet 63.3 percent of the population need." That means about 63% of the state is serviced with enough primary care providers. 

Unfortunately, Detroit itself is underserved. There are roughly 50 - 100 primary care doctors in Detroit for roughly 680,000 residents. That's roughly 1 doctor for every 6,000 - 12,000 residents in the City of Detroit. 

If you were to look at the data for Wayne County, which includes Detroit, Dearborn, Inkster, the Grosse Pointes, etc..., you would see that there's 1 doctor for every 1,515 people, which is a relatively equitable ratio. However, when you look closer at the distribution of physicians in Wayne County, you will see that several are concentrated in wealthier suburbs like Grosse Pointe and Dearborn. This leaves places like Detroit and Inkster underserved. 

The black dots on this map indicate the locations of licensed physicians. While there are a good number of doctor's offices in Wayne County, the distribution of these offices is skewed with a higher concentration of offices in Dearborn and Grosse Pointe than in the City of Detroit itself. This image was a part of a larger presentation given by former Detroit Health Department Director and now Candidate for Governor of Michigan, Abdul El-Sayed. In case you were wondering, the yellow stars indicate pop-up clinics planned by the City of Detroit Health Department to distribute contraceptives. 

The black dots on this map indicate the locations of licensed physicians. While there are a good number of doctor's offices in Wayne County, the distribution of these offices is skewed with a higher concentration of offices in Dearborn and Grosse Pointe than in the City of Detroit itself. This image was a part of a larger presentation given by former Detroit Health Department Director and now Candidate for Governor of Michigan, Abdul El-Sayed. In case you were wondering, the yellow stars indicate pop-up clinics planned by the City of Detroit Health Department to distribute contraceptives. 

One of the several reasons why I've started Plum Health in Detroit is to address the health disparities and access to care issues that are currently facing the City. Because we provide our services, medications, labs, and imaging at such an affordable price, we are able to care for people of all socio-economic strata. This allows us to aspire to a more just and equitable health care system, and it starts with excellent primary care. 

Finally, I want to inspire high school students, college students, medical students at Wayne State University, and current Family Medicine residents to practice Family Medicine in a Direct Primary Care practice or traditional fee-for-service model in the City. We need excellent primary care doctors for our community to be healthier and to address the health disparities in our city. 

Yours in Good Health,

- Paul Thomas, MD

Primary care is essential to having a healthy community and a healthy society. In this episode, we explore the importance of having a primary care doctor who can help you stay healthy! You can find out more about Plum Health at http://www.plumhealthdpc.com/

Ice Skating at Clark Park

This week I was able to ice skate at Clark Park in Southwest Detroit. First, ice skating is a fun, enjoyable activity for the winter months in Detroit and Michigan. Many families are able to stamp down enough snow and construct a wooden border, flood the area and allow it to freeze. These back yard rinks are the stuff of memory and family lore, but it's nice to have a community rink that is open to all. 

Second, 60 minutes of activity each day can increase our physical and emotional wellness. Children especially need to be active and create habits of activity and exercise that will help them maintain a healthy weight and avoid chronic diseases as they age. Here's some key stats:

  • Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, videogames, computer).
  • Only about one in five homes have parks within a half-mile, and about the same number have a fitness or recreation center within that distance.
  • Nearly one-third of high school students play video or computer games for 3 or more hours on an average school day.

If you want to learn more facts and stats about healthy activity patterns, hit this site: https://www.fitness.gov/resource-center/facts-and-statistics/ 

Third, I was able to mentor some neighborhood kids and help them with their skating, passing, and shooting. It's always great to help kids build confidence in their abilities, and this was a nice opportunity to work with a group of kids in the neighborhood.

The ice rink at Clark Park is run by the Clark Park Coalition. If you want to learn more about what they do, or donate to their ongoing programming, hit their link! http://www.clarkparkdetroit.com/ 

Thanks for reading!

- Paul Thomas, MD

Vaccine Finder

Recently, I wrote a blog post about getting your flu shot! #GetYourFluShot And when I was reading articles on the CDC website, I came across Vaccine Finder. Vaccine Finder is a nifty online resource that allows you to enter your zip code to find the nearest clinic or pharmacy that dispenses vaccines.

It lists the basics like the address, phone, hours of operation and website. In addition, as the clinic or pharmacy owner, you can enter in the price of the vaccines that you dispense. As a Direct Primary Care clinic with transparent pricing, we did just that! You can see that our Influenza Vaccine costs $10.53, our Hepatitis A vaccine costs $68.42, and our TDaP vaccine costs $47.47. 

Another cool feature is that you can use the website to hail an Uber to get you to the vaccine dispensing location! 

FYI, we're in Corktown/Southwest Detroit, and if you enter in our zip code (48216), we will be the #1 result! 

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day, and #GetYourFluShot,

- Paul Thomas, MD

Volunteering at Cass Clinic

Volunteering in the community is an important part of what I do as a doctor. I enjoy helping medical students learn the basics of primary care and serving the community in this way.

This week, I'm at Cass Clinic for their Saturday Morning clinic. It's in Detroit's Midtown Neighborhood and they serve people without insurance, who are homeless, living in drug rehab centers or otherwise vulnerable.

I am grateful that the Wayne State University Medical Students continue to care for the community in this way as they run this clinic without much outside help. If you want to donate medication, bathroom supplies, or hats, gloves, and socks, there's a donation link on their webpage - www.cassclinic.com.

Additionally, I volunteer at the Student Run Free Clinic on the East Side of Detroit at 5555 Connor Ave, just south of I-94. I volunteer at the SRFC once a month and at Cass Clinic about once a month as well. 

I have been volunteering at the Cass Clinic since about age 17. I grew up attending a Methodist church and I was looking for unique volunteer opportunities. I came across the Cass Clinic as it is a part of the Cass Community Social Services, which is a Methodist organization. When I started volunteering, I worked with Medical Students at WSU SOM as they took care of patients in this setting. Watching these young medical students was an inspiration, and from that point on knew which medical I wanted to attend - Wayne State! 

In Detroit, just like in many communities, the needs are great. I know that a few half days a month will not save the world, but these small actions do make a big difference in the lives of the patients that we serve. 

Thanks so much for reading and watching!

- Paul Thomas, MD