The Circle of Health

Inova’s VIP 360 service delivers preventive, proactive medical care

Picture of mom with her three daughtersAndrea Therrien, 33, wakes up to a triple-packed whammy of kisses and giggles — all before she thinks about a cup of coffee, diaper changes or the routine explanation of which shoe goes on which foot. This is Therrien’s life, as mom to three little girls ages 1, 3 and 5, and she wouldn’t change a thing.

However, when Therrien was diagnosed with a manageable yet chronic medical issue, things did change. Her own healthcare moved high on the priority list, which meant finding a trusted physician who could work with a mom’s busy schedule. Therrien can’t put life on hold to wait weeks for a doctor’s appointment or hours for a physician’s return call.

The solution was to enroll in Inova’s VIP 360° program, a primary care practice located on the Inova Fairfax Hospital campus. The program offers specialized services for an additional cost (also known as concierge or boutique medicine). Therrien’s primary care physician is Laura M. Balda, MD. “If I don’t even have time for a phone call, I text Dr. Balda and she responds right away,” Therrien stresses. “Sometimes we handle things by phone, because she knows me so well. Other times she has me come in, but there’s no sitting around in the waiting room. So I don’t have to rearrange the girls’ entire day.”

24/7 PERSONALIZED MEDICAL CARE

Therrien’s one-on-one relationship with Dr. Balda is possible because Inova 360° maintains a low patient-to-physician ratio — no more than 400 patients per physician. The national average is 2,500 patients per primary care physician. Estimates suggest that providing acute, chronic and preventive care for 2,500 patients requires 21.7 hours per day — an impossible time constraint. To provide the minimum necessary care needed, an average physician visit is 15 minutes, barely enough time to assess acute symptoms, leaving no time for preventive care. Inova created the VIP 360° program to return the patient-physician relationship where it belongs, to one with unprecedented focus on in-depth wellness education.   Click here to visit the Inova VIP 360 website >

“Preventive care is about empowering the patient with knowledge, because the more knowledge you have the healthier you are,” says Maggie Hayford, RN, Manager of Inova 360° Services. “What’s important to remember is that preventive medicine is a process, with the physician and patient working together to reduce the risk of disease, prevent hospitalization and achieve a longer, more productive life. This takes commitment, time and follow-through.”

For example, Hayford describes a scenario where a VIP 360° patient comes in with a cold and although completely unrelated, the doctor knows this patient also suffers from hypertension. “Your physician has time to treat your runny nose but to also discuss that high blood pressure. How is your diet going? What about exercise?” she says. “These aren’t questions relegated to an annual physical. We believe it’s an ongoing conversation.”

In this way, Hayford adds, the physician becomes a patient advocate, overseeing individual treatment needs and initiating customized preventive care plans. Those plans may involve calling in any number of Inova healthcare experts, including doctors, nurses, specialists, a fitness trainer and a nutritionist.

THE VALUE OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE

A man on his bicycleIf anyone understands the value of preventive medicine, it’s Dan McClain. When McClain enrolled in the VIP 360° program two years ago, he was 54, overweight, out of shape and taking four medications to control his type 2 diabetes. He’d reached that point where he could no longer ignore his health — not if he wanted to enjoy retirement someday.

Today, after the Inova 360° team helped McClain shed 60 unwanted pounds and begin an exercise program, his diabetes is under control, he takes only one medication, and as he puts it, “I’m in better shape now than I was 30 years ago. I’ll carry diabetes with me for the rest of my life. But I’m in a much better place and having a lot of fun.”

McClain’s VIP 360° experience began with his physician, John Pace, MD, lead physician, Inova 360° Services. Dr. Pace identified McClain’s health issues and then expanded the team. He brought on board Dr. Balda for weight control and a fitness trainer for an individualized exercise program. “The team helped me stay on point,” McClain says. “But what impressed me most was how everything was geared to my own needs as a busy 50-something executive and not some 20-year-old training for the Olympics. The program is realistic, so I’ve stuck with it and it is continuing to work for me.”

McClain often mentions that his VIP 360° investment is one of his smartest moves. “We’re already seeing how cost-effective VIP 360° is, with the emphasis on preventive healthcare resulting in reduced medications, fewer hospital visits, fewer missed days at work and more days feeling great,” says Dr. Balda.

SOPHISTICATED MEDICAL RECORDS SYSTEM

“I know my patients very well. I know who they are, what their individual health situation is, and I have immediate access to their charts from any Internet portal, whether I’m in the office or not,” explains Laura M. Balda, MD, team physician Inova 360° Services. “If a patient calls me on Saturday night with a question, I have their medical record at my fingertips. That often allows me to answer questions, adjust medication or call in a prescription right then and there, which saves my patients time and worry.”

The medical record system Dr. Balda refers to is EpicCare EMR, the nation’s premiere electronic medical records system. The system links Inova’s five hospitals and outpatient treatment facilities, delivering complete integration of each individual patient’s healthcare record and giving all Inova doctors, nurses and key healthcare personnel access to a patient’s most current medical record. In addition, EpicCare offers patients full access to MyChart, the patient’s Internet portal, to connect with their doctor, schedule appointments, request prescription refills and review their electronic medical records.

BE A VIP

Learn more about Inova VIP 360° at www.inova.org/VIP360.

You may also be interested in: Corporate Health Screenings

Inova also offers a program of health screenings for busy executives called Corporate 360. To learn more, visit www.inova.org/corporate360.