Two doctors from Full Circle Family Medicine will offer an innovative practice model in Damariscotta beginning in 2017.
Dr. Minda Gold and Dr. Dan Einstein will open Full Circle Direct Primary Care in January 2017. The practice will be located at the current home of Full Circle Family Medicine at 68 Chapman St. in Damariscotta.
Gold, of Damariscotta, has practiced medicine in Damariscotta for the past 22 years, 13 of which have been at Full Circle. She attended New Jersey Medical School and moved to Maine to complete her residency in family medicine in the Maine Medical Center/Mercy Hospital Program.
Einstein, of Freeport, joined Full Circle Family Medicine a month ago. He attended Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland and the Maine Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency in Augusta. He is certified with the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine.
Earlier in October, Full Circle announced that both Dr. Allan “Chip” Teel and physician’s assistant Ingrid Sherrill would be leaving Full Circle Family Medicine at the end of December.
Gold and Einstein decided to pursue a new practice model known as direct primary care in order to continue to serve the community.
With direct primary care, patients have unlimited access to their doctors through a variety of means, including scheduled office visits, telephone calls, and electronic messages and video conferencing, Gold said.
“Under this system, patients don’t have to schedule a visit or come into the office if they just have a question they want to ask their doctor,” Gold said. “It doesn’t force them to take more time off of work to come in for one question.”
No insurance plan is involved with direct primary care. Instead, patients pay a monthly membership fee.
“The insurance companies continue to need more and more from us, which means there’s a shorter amount of time we’re allotted to spend with each patient,” Einstein said. “The idea with direct primary care is that it takes the insurance company out of the room and really allows us to focus on the patient and their needs.”
Patients that are using direct primary care should still have a health insurance policy for unexpected health care needs, such as emergency room visits and hospital stays.
“We’ve been comparing it to car insurance, in a way,” Gold said. “You don’t use your car insurance to pay for oil changes. You use it when something catastrophic happens.”
Direct primary care could also help prevent professional burnout in physicians, Gold said.
One of the hurdles facing direct primary care providers is the lack of recognition from insurance companies, Gold said.
“We’re still new to insurance companies, so that is a major challenge,” Gold said. “The goal is to have insurance companies see that direct primary care patients end up being healthier, have fewer visits to emergency rooms or urgent care, and end up spending less.”
Patients will need to enroll in the new practice. Einstein and Gold plan to accept 600 patients each.
The website for the practice, fullcircledpc.com, is currently under construction, Gold said. Once it is complete, individuals will be able to find descriptions of the various plans and prices offered.
Full Circle Direct Primary Care will have a limited number of scholarship memberships to help patients in need, Gold said.
A move toward direct primary care is taking place across the country, Gold said. The New England Direct Primary Care Alliance is one of a number of organizations that allow direct primary care providers to network and discuss opportunities and challenges facing providers.
“The direct primary care community is very supportive of sharing and collaborating,” Gold said. “Even though it’s just the two of us here, we’re not alone.”