The medical field has changed tremendously over the course of the past few decades, including the discoveries of seemingly miraculous advancements. But not everything has changed for the better. As pediatrician Dr. Nitin Gupta sees it, “Now, everyone hates their doctor; everyone despises the medical system.”
Dr. Gupta hopes to change this outlook with his Rivertowns Pediatrics practice in Dobbs Ferry. Rather than rush patients in and out of appointments in what’s become the industry standard of ten minutes or less, Gupta promises, “every patient is scheduled for one hour visits.” This just barely scratches the surface of how patient-friendly his set-up is. He has also reintroduced the throw-back custom of house calls back into the realm of pediatric care. Even more, his patients have unlimited visits at any time of the day/every day of the week, as well as unlimited phone calls, texts, and telehealth directly with Dr. Gupta. If that’s not enough, this all-inclusive service also comes at a very affordable rate. Gupta circumvented the often-confusing healthcare system by not accepting insurance. This means there are no co-pays, no worries of deductibles, and just one flat monthly fee of $150 for children under a year old, $125 for children under four, and $100 for those older than five. (He also offers discounts to families with multiple children.)
Seeing a need for a similar service of affordable medical care for adults and small business owners in the Rivertowns, he recently asked Dr. Lori Solomon to bring her practice to his office. For $100 a month, adult members at Rivertowns Pediatrics have access to 24/7 unlimited visits, phone calls, telehealth, and texting with Dr. Solomon. This insurance-free model is known as Direct Primary Care and now means adults and children in our community can afford doctors without having to worry about the cost of getting sick.
“One of the other things I routinely do for my patients is price shop and negotiate on their behalf. The variation in cost for the same service is incredible and unfair especially for uninsured or underinsured patients,” said Solomon. This led her to being a pioneer in Direct Primary Care in Westchester County by opening Innovix Medical Direct Primary Care in Scarsdale one year ago. When she met Gupta several months ago, she “found a great partner in our common goal,” and she moved her practice to his space in Dobbs Ferry.
“Growing up, doctors were highly regarded. They kind of knew everyone in town, and they were held to a different standard. We lost that,” Gupta said. But what he and Solomon are doing at Rivertowns isn’t merely a return to folksy, old-timey traditions; Direct Primary Care is also recognized in their field as an emerging, albeit very small, trend sometimes referred to as “concierge” doctors. No matter how it’s framed, this service may not be as lucrative financially for doctors as the standard course of current medical care, but it allows for a higher retention rate of patients while keeping overhead down. Gupta’s and Solomon’s own overhead is mostly for the cost of their office. There is no other staff, not even a nurse, because they personally take the vitals of patients. They also don’t have a receptionist, since they don’t need someone to sort out insurance information, and they field many of their calls on their own cell phones. Gupta explained, “I’m trying to go as low as possible to prove a point. Medicine really doesn’t have to be that expensive. I even scrub my own floors here and take out my own trash.”
“The problem is society is getting used to the fact that doctors are now employees, and doctors have been trained that way. That’s not me,” Gupta said. “There’s still a few of us out there where it was more of a calling…It’s a passion.”
For more information, visit Rivertowns Pediatrics’ website www.rivertownspeds.com
To see last month’s Health Care profiles, visit www.riverjournalonline.com/health.