Primary Care Detroit

Osteopathic Family Medicine Doctor Accepting New Patients in Detroit

Osteopathic Family Medicine Doctor Accepting New Patients in Detroit

Dr. Raquel Orlich is an Osteopathic Family Medicine Doctor who is accepting new patients in Detroit, Michigan. She finished a successful first week at Plum Health DPC, our Family Practice office in Southwest Detroit. She has already been able to incorporate Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine techniques with some of our patient’s treatment regimens. Click here to read more about Osteopathic Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine for musculoskeletal concerns.

Dr. Raquel Orlich using her hands to apply an Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Treatment to one of her patients.

Dr. Raquel Orlich using her hands to apply an Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Treatment to one of her patients.

Dr. Raquel is excited to have started at the practice and she is eager to continue to meet new folks of the community. If you or someone you know needs a primary care doctor, Dr. Raquel is accepting new patients. Click here to learn more about Dr. Raquel and her medical interests.

Which Conditions do Family Medicine Doctors Treat?

Family Medicine physicians are the cornerstone to health maintenance and illness prevention. Family medicine physicians can provide annual wellness exams. Routine annual physical exams are important to address age related cancer screening tests, to evaluate for preventable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and discuss other lifestyle choices that may be affecting your overall health such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and inactivity.

Family medicine doctors can address up to 90% of your health concerns. They can manage and evaluate health concerns that arise such as the common cold, heartburn management, back pain, ankle sprains, and many others.  They can also manage chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma. 

Family medicine doctors may also offer simple procedures in the office such as laceration repair (sewing up small to medium-sized cuts), knee joint injections, abscess drainage, wart removal, ingrown toenail removal, skin biopsies, and many more.

Why it’s Important to Have a Family Doctor

Detroit is a Health Professional Shortage Area, meaning that there are too few Family Doctors and Primary Care Doctors for the number of Residents in Detroit. There’s roughly 1 primary care physician for every 6,000 Detroit residents. Compare that to 1 primary care physician for every 600 residents in Oakland County, and you find that Detroit has a 10x disparity in access to primary care.

What’s more, An increase of one primary care doctor per 10,000 people has been shown to result in a 5% decrease in outpatient clinic visits, a 5.5% decrease in hospital admissions, a 10.9% decrease in ER visits, and a 7.2% decrease in surgeries.

Why? Because primary care physicians like Family Medicine Doctors are experts at taking care of people in a cost-effective way. Family Doctors are able to treat conditions in their early stages before they become worse or more complicated. For example, if you work with your family doctor to lower your blood pressure, this could prevent a heart attack or a stroke in the future. 

How to Schedule an Appointment with Dr. Raquel

To make an appointment with Dr. Raquel, head over to our scheduling link and select her as your doctor. After you submit the information, Dr. Raquel will reach out and offer appointment times. 

Thank you for reading and have a great day,

-Dr. Paul Thomas and Dr. Raquel Orlich with Plum Health DPC

What is Osteopathic Medicine?

What is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine or “DO”? 

The best way to define an Osteopathic Physician is by what they believe. They follow the four tenets or principles of Osteopathic Medicine. They are as follows:

  1. The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit.

  2. The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.

  3. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.

  4. Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function. 

In short, an osteopathic physician is trained to treat the person as a whole as every body system can relate to one another. Because of this holistic approach, not surprisingly many DOs have a strong interest in preventative health and primary care.

Osteopathic physicians complete four years of medical school and at least three years of residency, just like their Allopathic or MD counterparts. However, in addition to their stethoscopes and medical exam equipment, DOs have special training to use their hands as diagnostic and therapeutic tools with a treatment called Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine.

Dr. Raquel Orlich uses her hands to treat a patient at the Plum Health DPC; this is known as Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine.

Dr. Raquel Orlich uses her hands to treat a patient at the Plum Health DPC; this is known as Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine.

What is Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine?

A DO or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine is trained in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine also known as “OMM or OMT” during medical school and residency. It is a hands-on technique used to help diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury.  

During an osteopathic exam, a head to toe assessment will be performed to evaluate for abnormalities that the Doctor can feel with their hands called somatic dysfunctions. These abnormalities may have an effect on your activities of daily living, like dressing, eating, and bathing. They may also disrupt the way you walk and the way you move because they may be painful, and this can impact your overall quality of life. 

Somatic dysfunctions can be defined as impaired or altered function of the somatic (body framework) system: skeleton, joints, and myofascial structures (muscles, ligaments, tendons) and their relation to the blood vessels, lymphatic system, and nerves. 

A Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine or DO employs treatments that restore and improve range of motion, by focusing on realigning trouble spots. Treatment modalities are patient specific and can include myofascial release (soft tissue work), muscle energy, high velocity low amplitude (traditional chiropractic work), counterstrain, and Still technique. During the visit, time will be set aside to discuss home stretches, exercises, and injury prevention.

What conditions can an Osteopathic Physician Treat with Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine?

Dr. Raquel Orlich uses the Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine technique to diagnose and treat a patient with a musculoskeletal health problem at the Plum Health DPC clinic in Detroit, Michigan.

Dr. Raquel Orlich uses the Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine technique to diagnose and treat a patient with a musculoskeletal health problem at the Plum Health DPC clinic in Detroit, Michigan.

Here is a list of common issues that can be treated and improved with OMM

  • Pain related to improper alignment in the back, hips, shoulders, and neck (chronic and acute)

  • Musculoskeletal pain of the arm and leg

  • Nerve impingement (sciatica, radiculopathy)

  • Range of motion of tissues and joints

  • Headache (tension, migraine, and sinus)

  • Constipation

If you are dealing with some of the issues listed above, you may be a good candidate for OMM as a safe and effective form of therapy. Getting an appointment is easy, just click this link.

-Dr. Raquel

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine 


Trashtag Challenge at Plum Health DPC

On Monday, April 22nd, it was Earth Day, and last month we contributed by completing the Trashtag Challenge! The Trashtag Challenge is where you get a bunch of your friends, neighbors, colleagues, or classmates and get outside and pick up as much trash as possible, taking before and after pictures to document the process.

When the snow melted in March, it revealed a ton of trash in our parking lot, which was not appreciated. I went out with my friend and colleague, Rob, and we absolutely destroyed a patch of refuse and debris.

But, there was still more work to be done, and we went out with a group of about 12 more people and cleared out more trash from the parking lot and surrounding areas. This is really important because trash and what we do with it has a big impact on our community and our health. Trash and its presence, or absence, impacts the way that we feel about our community.

Paul Thomas MD with a group of students from the Detroit School of Digital Technology, cleaning up trash from our parking lot at 1759 21st Street, Detroit, MI 48216.

Paul Thomas MD with a group of students from the Detroit School of Digital Technology, cleaning up trash from our parking lot at 1759 21st Street, Detroit, MI 48216.

There was a bunch of trash beforehand, but we got it done - many hands make light work! This is the Plum Health DPC and DSDT crew cleaning up our shared parking lot and completing the Trashtag Challenge.

There was a bunch of trash beforehand, but we got it done - many hands make light work! This is the Plum Health DPC and DSDT crew cleaning up our shared parking lot and completing the Trashtag Challenge.

I’ll close this with a challenge - can you get a group of people together and clean up a small patch of your community?

Thanks for reading and have a great week! - Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Detroit Demo Day Promo Video Features Plum Health

This year, the Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day Promo Video and marketing materials features Dr. Paul Thomas of Plum Health DPC. We submitted a quote for their website as well:

“A big shout out to Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day, who helped us accelerate our business growth through their fantastic program. Because of the exposure that Plum Health DPC received through the program, and the grant money that we won through the pitch competition, we are able to provide more people with affordable, accessible health care services in Detroit and beyond.” 

I'm posting this today because the application is now live for the next Quicken Loans Demo Day Event! Read more about our big win, here, and read more about Demo Day and the application process, here.

If you’re a small business in Detroit and wanting to grow and expand your business, this is a fantastic opportunity to get more recognition in the community for your brand and your business, and if you have everything in order, you could potentially walk away with grant funding for your business or an interest-free loan from Quicken Loans.

Thanks for reading and have a great day,

Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Promotional image from Quicken Loans’ Detroit Demo Day, featuring Dr. Paul Thomas of Plum Health DPC

Promotional image from Quicken Loans’ Detroit Demo Day, featuring Dr. Paul Thomas of Plum Health DPC

Paul Thomas MD on the DocPreneur Podcast

This week, we were featured on the DocPreneur Podcast, which is created and distributed by Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief of the Direct Primary Care Journal. After publishing the book, Direct Primary Care: The Cure for Our Broken Healthcare System, Michael reached out about having me on the podcast.

I’m sincerely happy to share my experiences in Direct Primary Care, to teach and inspire other doctors to take this journey to an authentic, fulfilling practice of medicine, to become the doctors they were meant to be. This is one of the biggest reasons why I continue to get the word out about Direct Primary Care - I believe in this model and its ability to transform our healthcare system in the United States.

I want to personally thank Michael Tetreault for being on the vanguard of Direct Primary Care by creating educational materials for DPC doctors. Enjoy the podcast, and let me know what you think!

Thank you for reading, watching, and listening,

-Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Plum Health serves a Health Professional Shortage Area

Plum Health serves a Health Professional Shortage Area, and we’re proud to do this. Part of our mission is to deliver affordable, accessible health care services in Detroit and beyond. This is important because we are passionate about making health care available to communities that have been traditionally neglected by the existing medical system.

Unfortunately, doctors and hospital systems choose to locate their practices in neighborhoods and communities that have higher income levels and higher rates of private insurance coverage. You see, doctors in the current fee-for-service system only receive what they are paid by third party payers, like Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies.

And some of these payers pay more for services than others. For example, Medicaid reimbursement is much lower than Medicare reimbursement or Private Insurance reimbursement. This really hurts Detroit as a greater proportion of Detroiters rely on Medicaid for health insurance relatives to other counties in our region.

Therefore, the current fee-for-service system incentivizes doctors to locate their practices in higher-income communities, and thus leaves lower-income communities medically underserved. As an example, the ratio of primary care physicians to general population in Detroit is roughly 1 primary care physician for every 6,300 residents. In Oakland county, there’s about 1 primary care physician for every 683 residents.

Below are the medically underserved areas in Detroit as of 2017. We are proud to be practicing in the Southwest Detroit/Corktown neighborhoods and serving our neighbors, community members, and small businesses with high-quality medical services.

2018 Plum Health DPC serves a medically underserved neighborhood in Detroit.png

Thank you for reading and understanding this important issue,

-Dr. Paul Thomas, MD with Plum Health DPC in Detroit, Michigan

More on the above map: Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a Federal Agency, develops shortage designation criteria to determine whether a geographic area, population group or facility is a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or a Medically Underserved Area/Population (MUA/P). HPSAs may be designated as having a shortage of primary medical care, dental or mental health providers. They may be urban or rural areas, population groups, or medical or other public facilities. MUAs may be a whole county or a group of contiguous counties, a group of counties or civil divisions, or a group of urban census tracts in which residents have a shortage of health services. MUPs may include groups of persons who face economic, cultural or linguistic barriers to health care.

Additional information on Medicaid rates in Wayne county, take from MLive:

Medicaid Rates in Wayne County.png
Michigan Medicaid Map.png

Paul Thomas, MD Speaks at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine

This week, I was able to speak at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine to a group of about 50 enthusiastic first and second year medical students on September 24th, 2018. This presentation focuses on the philosophy and practice of Direct Primary Care and the main points of a DPC practice.

I believe in Family Medicine and I believe in Family Medicine doctors and their ability to fix our broken healthcare system, to remake it into a compassionate, intuitive system that delivers comprehensive care.

Because of this belief, I speak as often as I can to medical students, residents, doctors, and allied health professionals about Direct Primary Care and its transformative power in our healthcare ecosystem.

Thanks for reading and watching,

-Dr. Paul Thomas, family medicine physician practicing at Plum Health DPC in Southwest Detroit

How to Find the Best Prescription Drug Prices in Detroit

As many of us are aware, the price of prescription drugs can be astronomical. People are paying for a retail markup at pharmacies, often paying 10 - 20 times as much as the drug actually costs at wholesale. Even worse, insurance companies often charge more for medications purchased via your insurance plan than the medication would cost if you bought it at the cash price. 

Why is this important to me? I'm a Family Doctor in Southwest Detroit and I took an oath to do no harm, and for me that oath also includes doing no financial harm. So, I am focused on lowering the cost of health care for my patients and the greater community. 

How to find the best prescription drug prices in Detroit

If you're like many people, you probably go to the pharmacy with your Rx card or prescription card from your health insurance company. You then have the pharmacist 'run the card' to find out if you get a discount when you purchase medication. 

What you should do instead is ask the pharmacist, "what is your cash price for this medication?" Also, you can ask for any coupons that the pharmacist might have. If you are dissatisfied with the price, then pull out your insurance card and ask for them to 'run the card'. This will ensure that you have a fair price point to start from. 

In addition, you can shop around for the best prescription drug prices in Detroit or in your local community by comparing prices online. Using tools like GoodRx.com can help you find the exact price for the medication you need. 

Using Direct Primary Care to Lower Drug Prices

There is another option to find even lower prescription drug prices. That option is called Direct Primary Care. In the Direct Primary Care model, doctors aim to provide as much value as possible for patients' health care dollars. In simple terms, we DPC doctors try to lower the cost of health care. 

What does this look like? It looks like 70% - 90% savings on prescription drug prices in Detroit and the Metro Detroit Area. Just check out this chart and see for yourself the actual, wholesale cost of the medication compared to the price you would pay at the pharmacy with the retail pharmacy mark up, or the inflated price. 

Original image taken from  Consumer Reports .

Original image taken from Consumer Reports.

 

How do we do this? At Plum Health DPC, we buy the medications at a wholesale price and then we sell them to our patients at-cost. This means if we buy a bottle of 1000 blood pressure medications at $10, each pill costs 1 cent. Then your monthly prescription cost for that blood pressure medication is 30 cents.

In the above example, we are able to get Pioglitazone (Actos) for $4.30 per month, Celecoxib (Celebrex) for $6.47 per month, Duloxetine (Cymbalta) for $7.04 per month, Atorvastatin or Lipitor for $2.09 per month, and Clopidogrel or Plavix for $4.28 per month. The total monthly cost would be $24.18 for our patient, and that is a huge cost savings compared to the nearest retail pharmacy.

By lowering the cost of medications, we can improve access to primary care services, better control blood pressure and diabetes, and therefore decrease the risks of heart attacks, strokes, and complications of diabetes in our community. This will lead to lower rates of disability and death, or a healthier society. 

We are proud to make a difference in this way. Thank you for reading and learning about the cost of prescription drugs, and let me know if I can help you or a family member lower the cost of health care.

Sincerely,

- Dr. Paul Thomas, MD with Plum Health DPC

Dr. Paul Thomas is a Detroit Young Professionals Vanguard Award Recipient

 

This week I am humbled to have been selected as a Detroit Young Professionals Vanguard Award Recipient along with an amazing class of movers and shakers. The winners are from various professional backgrounds and represent the next generation of leaders in Detroit and beyond.  

Beyond being an award, this honor symbolizes that this idea is gaining traction. The idea that health care should be affordable and accessible for everyone. The idea that Detroit deserves excellent primary care services. The idea that we can make a tangible difference in people's lives by doing the right thing.

A sincere thank you to the Detroit Young Professionals organization for selecting me for this honor, and a heartfelt congratulations to my fellow awardees. See you October 24th at the Vanguard Awards!

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Paul Thomas MD Plum Health Vanguard Detroit Young Professionals Award Winner 2018.jpg

Plum Health Interviewed by Daily Detroit

This week, we were interviewed by Daily Detroit about our Demo Day Win! Here's the "News Byte"

In the above interview, Jeremiah mentions a previous interview, and that interview can be heard here:

If you're unfamiliar with our service, my name is Dr. Paul Thomas and I'm a Family Medicine Doctor in Detroit. Our office is in Southwest Detroit and we take care of people of all ages and stages - our youngest patient is 6 months old and our oldest is now 92 years young. 

We offer the same services as any other primary care office, but we use a membership model - that means that our members pay $10/month for children and starting at $49/month for adults to use our service. This allows us to have more one-on-one time with our patients and deliver a higher level of service in our office. 

One way that we go above and beyond is that every patient has my cell phone number - meaning that they can call or text me anytime they need me. We guarantee same-day or next-day appointments, and the majority of our in-office procedures are free of charge, like abscess drainage, toenail removal, ear lavage, etc...

If you're ready to start your journey to better health with Plum Health, then head over to our enrollment link, here

Thanks for reading and listening!

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Plum Health Interview on Podcast Detroit about winning Detroit Demo Day.png

Plum Health at the Michigan Central Station

Yesterday was a momentous occasion - Ford Motor Company announced their purchase and their plans for the historic and beautiful Michigan Central Station. The Michigan Central Station has been abandoned since the mid-1980's, and it has been an eyesore on the Detroit skyline for the past 20 years. 

The empty station had been an emotional thorn in the side, constantly nagging at Detroit, reminding Detroiters of their past prominence, but also standing as a signal of our post-industrial economic failures.

But all of those bad feelings have been erased after today's event. Now, there's a sense of pride that Detroit has an opportunity to remake this historic site in the best way possible. The event at the Michigan Central Station felt inclusive, as community leaders from several different sectors were invited to be seated on stage. 

There's also the impending economic impact of having thousands of Ford Motor Company employees working out of the Michigan Central Station in about 4 years. 

As a lover of Detroit, Detroit history, and architecture this was a great day for me. As someone who cares deeply about the health of Detroiters and the prosperity of the region, this was one of the best days for me. 

I am hopeful that the benefits of having Ford Motor Company in Detroit will be felt and experienced by all Detroiters - employment and economic prosperity is a key to having great health. 

As a physician and a family doctor in Southwest Detroit, with our office just two blocks behind the historic and now revitalizing Michigan Central Station, I'm excited for the future challenges and opportunities. 

Thanks for reading and watching,

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC

Plum Health DPC is a family medicine practice in Southwest Detroit that delivers affordable, accessible healthcare. We remove the profit takers between you and your doctor, lowering the cost of healthcare. Our memberships are $10/month for children and start at $49/month for adults. This allows you to have contact with me, your doctor, any time you need me, as well as the ability to purchase wholesale medications and receive lab work at-cost. To start your journey with Plum Health, head over to our scheduling page: https://www.plumhealthdpc.com/schedule/

Hatch Detroit 2017 Application

Today, we submitted our application for Hatch Detroit 2017. Our company is called Plum Health DPC and we deliver affordable, accessible healthcare services in Detroit. We offer street level, neighborhood-based medicine in a city with very few primary care medical resources. There are roughly 50 - 100 primary care doctors in a city of 683,000 people, or roughly 1 doctor for every 6,000 - 12,000 Detroit residents.

This lack of access to primary care has a net negative effect on the city. Medical problems go untreated, worsening the burden of disease in the city for all maladies from diabetes, to high blood pressure, and cancer. Residents who cannot get in to see Detroit-based doctors must drive to the suburbs for services, causing inconvenience and costing the city in terms of tax revenue.

The Hatch Detroit 2017 grant is an opportunity for $50,000 in cash, along with support services ranging from legal to accounting, and beyond. With this $50,000, we would be able to hire a second doctor as soon as possible. This has an immediate benefit for the community in that we can get another doctor in Detroit to provide holistic and comprehensive primary care services. 

We believe that primary care services are invaluable for a community, especially in a City like Detroit. The type and amount of value that we give to the community will exceed the initial investment from this grant competition, should we be so fortunate as to be considered for the prize.

In effect, this $50,000 yields immediate impact. First, the Detroit community gets a desperately-needed primary care doctor in a street-level, community-facing medical practice. More screening tests are ordered, more colon, lung, prostate and breast cancer cases are caught early. More diabetic and hypertensive patients have their blood sugar and blood pressures controlled, resulting in lower heart attack and stroke rates in the years ahead.

I know it's not super sexy! But it is vital for a functioning city and truly revitalized neighborhoods. In keeping with the Mayor's vision of 20 minute neighborhoods, having a neighborhood family medicine doctor can only serve to strengthen Detroit's neighborhoods and the future of Detroit in general.

Thank you for reading and for watching,

Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health in Detroit, Michigan 

Plum Health featured in Good Life Detroit

This week, Plum Health DPC was featured on the blog Good Life Detroit. Jennifer is the creative spirit behind Good Life Detroit, and she did a fantastic job writing about our clinic and Direct Primary Care in general.

I really appreciated her perspective as a mother - she notes in the article that she has 5 children! - and that she paid $125 for a 20 minute doctor's visit for one of her children. Contrast that with our clinic, her child could have been seen for a full year for $120, with as many visits as needed included in that price. 

This is how we make our primary care services valuable for the community that we serve. If you were not aware, Detroit is a large, low-income population. We recognize this as a fact, and have adjusted our pricing to be accommodating for the community that we serve. 

Another great point that she brought up in the article is the frustration that people can experience when trying to reach their doctor! Sometimes reaching the doctor can be like pulling teeth. She puts it more eloquently, here: 

"Another great benefit of Plum Health Direct Primary Care is patients have the opportunity to speak directly to Dr. Paul without the hassle of long wait times and call screenings. Instead of having to go through a series of steps just to talk to their doctor, patients can call, text, or email Dr. Paul directly. In some cases, some doctors require you to leave a message with the office staff for a callback.

"Most of the time the office staff member screen’s the doctor’s calls and you have to tell the staff member exactly what it is you need or what your question is. Then you wait for the doctor to call you back, which can be anywhere from the same day or one to two days later, all depending on the doctor’s schedule.

"Members of Plum Health have Dr. Paul’s cell phone number and email address. They can reach him anytime they need to ask a question in regards to their health."

There are several other great points that she makes throughout the article. I was really impressed at her depth and thoroughness. I also appreciate her helping to get the word out about affordable, accessible health care in #Detroit. We're trying to serve as many folks who need this type of care, and articles like these help us to reach communities outside of our circle of influence. 

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day,

Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health Direct Primary Care 

Plum Health Direct Primary Care is in Detroit, Michigan. We practice old-fashioned family medicine, but we use technology to make ourselves more accessible to our patients when they need us! I love this graphic that Jennifer at Good Life Detroit created for us! 

Plum Health Direct Primary Care is in Detroit, Michigan. We practice old-fashioned family medicine, but we use technology to make ourselves more accessible to our patients when they need us! I love this graphic that Jennifer at Good Life Detroit created for us! 

I also really liked this graphic that Good Life Detroit made about our pricing tiers at Plum Health DPC - really easy to read and understand! 

I also really liked this graphic that Good Life Detroit made about our pricing tiers at Plum Health DPC - really easy to read and understand! 

Primary Care Clinic in Detroit

When I was a first year medical student, I worked with a group of my fellow medical students to build an outdoor medical clinic. We wanted to raise awareness about the lack of primary care services in Detroit, and we accomplished this by constructing an outdoor medical clinic.

Currently, there are roughly 50 - 100 primary care doctors in the City of Detroit. This equates to about 1 primary care doctor for every 6,000 - 12,000 residents, which is horribly underserved. In the future, I would like to see 1 primary care doctor in every single Detroit Neighborhood, from East English Village to Ford/Wyoming, from Old Redford to Lafayette Park. 

Having community primary care doctors creates a tremendous amount of value for the surrounding neighborhood - that doctor becomes a go-to person for folks who need health care and even emotional support. 

However, the current reality in Detroit is that folks either don't have access to a primary care doctor or are driving to the suburbs for their care. To illustrate that lack of primary care services, our group of medical students built an outdoor clinic as a part of the Heidelberg Project on Detroit's East Side or what you may call the McDougall Hunt Neighborhood. Of course, we had the approval of Tyree Guyton, who checked in on our work that day, and we also received some press from the Detroit Free Press and the Wooster Collective out of NYC. 

It was a simple clinic, with a reception desk, a door frame, a door, an exam table, and some chairs. On the door, we wrote all of the barriers to accessing health care services in Detroit and in the Nation. This was in 2009, when the debate over the Affordable Care Act was raging. 

I visit the location periodically, to see how it has changed over the years. The last time I visited the site was in September 2016 during the Tour de Troit, an annual bicycling event that takes riders around the city. Someone had added a skeleton and some body parts, and it looks like Tyree made his signature drawings of faces on our plexiglass wall. 

Plum Health may be in its infancy, but I know that we are already filling a need in the community in terms of primary care services. We recently surpassed 100 members and continue to grow, adding new members each week. We've taken care of newborns, toddlers, teens, and adults, and have addressed conditions ranging from sore throats to cancer.

As I continue to serve in the community, I hope to live up to the ideals that I put forth in this work of public art, to be the kind of community doctor that addresses the lack of access to health care in Detroit. I will also work to inspire the next generation of Family Physicians to take the leap into private practice in a community-based setting.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,

Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC 

Plum Health DPC Featured in The HUB Detroit

This week, we were featured in an article by The HUB Detroit, a local publication that focuses on Detroit neighborhoods. From their mission statement, they emphatically state: "our focus is Detroit’s neighborhoods. TheHUB’s multimedia platforms were created to give Detroit city residents and supporters a dedicated voice and space to discuss the real issues surrounding viable city neighborhoods."

I am happy to be working in the neighborhoods in the City of Detroit, serving folks of diverse backgrounds via my clinic in Southwest Detroit. The article touched on this point by relating that I am embracing the neighborhood where I practice medicine. It's true - I spend a lot of time reaching out to folks in the community like small business organizations, small business owners, and non-profit groups like the Ford Resource and Engagement Center. 

Our goal is to improve the health and wellness of not only individuals, but also the community and we achieve this by delivering affordable, accessible healthcare in our community.

I really appreciate the time that the editorial staff took to share the Plum Health story, and I'm excited for what the future holds for health in our City and our region.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,

- Dr. Paul with Plum Health 

What is Family Medicine?

Hello, this is Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC and I'm a Family Medicine Doctor in Detroit. I operate Plum Health Direct Primary Care, which delivers affordable, accessible health care services in Detroit. 

This week, I'm talking about Family Medicine Week, an official announcement from Governor Rick Snyder that makes February 19th - 25th Family Medicine Week. I'm a month late in bringing this up, but it's still important to recognize Family Medicine and the contribution of Family Medicine Doctors across the State of Michigan.

For starters, Family Medicine Doctors compete four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school, and three years of residency. That's 11 years after high school and 7 years after college. Furthermore, some Family Medicine Doctors sub-specialize within Family Medicine. 

They complete a 1 year fellowship to become Sports Medicine doctors, or Family Medicine doctors that sub-specialize in adolescent medicine, geriatric medicine, addiction medicine, etc...

The point is that Family Medicine doctors are highly trained, and specialize in taking care of the whole patient in the context of the family and the community. 

Family Medicine doctors care for people of all ages and stages! We help deliver babies, we help infants meet developmental milestones, we complete school, work, and sports physicals, we take care of injuries like fractures and lacerations, and we take care of chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma. 

Family Medicine doctors also work across a variety locations. Family Medicine doctors work in emergency departments, in-patient hospital settings, and out-patient clinics. Family Medicine doctors lead health departments for Cities, Counties, and States. Family Medicine doctors teach at medical schools, volunteer at homeless clinics, and travel abroad with organizations like Doctors without Borders. 

Personally, I love being a Family Medicine Doctor - I love taking care of people regardless of their age, race, gender, and orientation. I love being able to offer care and compassion to those who need it, along with the standard medical care. 

Finally, we need more Family Medicine doctors to create healthy communities, healthy cities, and a healthy nation. Family Medicine doctors address small issues before they become big, complicated problems. Family Medicine doctors and Primary Care Physicians can effectively increase the health of a community and lower the cost of care in that community.

Primary Care and Family Medicine is vital, and I'm glad that we have a week to recognize the work that Family Medicine doctors carry out each day in the State of Michigan.

Thanks for your time, and have a wonderful day,

- Dr. Paul Thomas

Match 2017 at Wayne State University School of Medicine

This week, I was happy to hear about the highly successful match at my alma mater, Wayne State University School of Medicine. On Friday, March 17th, WSU SOM matched 97.3% of its graduating seniors into residency programs! This rate is much higher than the national average of 93%. In addition, 40% of those new doctors will be training in primary care specialities. 

This is one of the points that I continue to emphasize: we need more primary care doctors in this country, in this state and in this region. And training primary care doctors begins with inspiring medical students to chose primary care specialties like Family Medicine, General Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Obstetrics/Gynecology. 

In other news, this Saturday I volunteered at Cass Clinic. I try to get out to Cass every month, and this month I helped the medical students take care of about 15 or more homeless, uninsured, and otherwise medically underserved people in the community. This mostly consists of managing blood pressure and diabetes as well as performing physical exams for work or school opportunities, just like all other people.

Finally, I'm talking about the EpiPen - $600 if you buy it via Mylan Pharmaceuticals. What you're paying for is a patented delivery device as the actual epinephrine medication costs $2 at wholesale. When I make this for my patients, I use an AutoInject 2, which costs $35 and insert the epinephrine into a syringe and place the syringe in the Auto Injector.

My Beta name for this product is the Epinephrine Delivery Device (EDD). I probably need to come up with a better name, but it is epinephrine within the AutoInject 2 and it is roughly equivalent to an EpiPen. Here's the video from Saturday:

Stay tuned for more updates!

- 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 

Opinion Published in the Detroit News

This week I wrote an opinion piece and it was published by the Detroit News! I'm very excited about getting the word out about the benefits of Primary Care and the work that needs to be done to address the health disparities in our city and in our region. Here's the link. A sincere thank you to Ingrid Jacques for giving me the opportunity to write this.

There are always constraints, with time and with resources, and the article was edited to fit the allotted space in the Sunday paper. So, here is the essay that I wrote in its entirety prior to editing by the News:  

If you live in the City of Detroit, you may find yourself driving to the suburbs for your primary care services.

According to top officials in the Detroit Health Department, there are roughly 50 – 100 primary care doctors in Detroit. For a city of 683,000 people, that’s about 1 doctor for every 6,000 – 12,000 residents, which is horribly underserved.

Interestingly, Wayne County as a whole has 1 primary care doctor for every 1,515 residents. But, the supply of doctors is not equitably distributed across communities within Wayne County. Areas like Grosse Pointe and Dearborn have a relative saturation, while cities like Inkster and Detroit remain underserved.

By contrast, Washtenaw County has 1 primary care doctor for every 598 residents and Oakland County has 1 primary care doc for every 655 residents. These are more equitable and desirable ratios.

We need more primary care doctors in our communities. Research has shown that as the number of primary care doctors increases, health outcomes improve and costs decrease.

Data released by the American Academy of Family Physicians reveals that an increase in one primary care doctor per 10,000 people reduces hospital admissions by 5.5%, ER visits by 10.9% and surgeries by 7.2%.

In an era of greater awareness of healthcare expenditures, that’s a lot of bang for your buck.

Unfortunately, the medical system does not incentivize primary care medicine. Specialists like Orthopedists, Cardiologists and Dermatologists are reimbursed at much higher rates than primary care specialists like Family Medicine doctors, General Internal Medicine doctors and Pediatricians.

And the graduating medical student is acutely aware of these discrepancies in pay.  The median level of med school debt for the class of 2015 was $183,000 and the total cost may surpass $400,000 if paid over the long term with interest.

As the average student considers an average salary of $443,000 as an Orthopedist or $204,000 as a Pediatrician, choosing primary care medicine becomes economically strenuous.

And for those doctors who choose primary care specialties, primary care offices are often set up in more affluent neighborhoods where the reimbursement levels are higher. These location selection decisions are often out of the hands of individual doctors and dictated by corporate, profit-driven health systems.

This suburbanization of primary care medical services has had a terrible effect for Detroit’s residents. WalletHub recently ranked the City of Detroit as the least healthy major city in the United States, ranking 150 out of 150.

After the WalletHub list was published, the former Health Department Director was quoted in a Detroit News article: “Detroit health chief Dr. Abdul El-Sayed wasn’t surprised with the results, which he blamed partly on the lack of doctor’s offices in neighborhoods, healthy food stores, transportation and safe places to exercise.”

But, there is hope. The longstanding work of free and low cost clinics like CHASS, the Student Run Free Clinic, HUDA, and Joy-Southfield Clinics should be acknowledged. It is also encouraging that the Michigan State University of Osteopathic Medicine Popoff Clinic on Mack Avenue on the East Side is complimenting these stalwarts. Additionally, a Direct Primary Care service, Plum Health DPC, in Southwest Detroit/Corktown is providing another option for Detroit residents.

Finally, as Downtown, Midtown and New Center become more sustainable, primary care services should begin to take hold with potential spill over benefits for adjacent neighborhoods.

Paul Thomas, MD

Family Medicine Doctor with Plum Health DPC

Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day,

- Paul Thomas, MD

A newspaper clipping from this Sunday's Detroit News about health care and health disparities in the city of Detroit and the potential solutions to address them. 

A newspaper clipping from this Sunday's Detroit News about health care and health disparities in the city of Detroit and the potential solutions to address them.