PINEHURST, N.C.—When it comes to health, working with a trusted physician who understands your needs and acts as a true partner in your care is invaluable. And now that level of personalized care is available to Sandhills residents through FirstHealth Concierge Medicine.
The concierge primary care practice, which opened June 1 in Southern Pines, offers enhanced patient-physician relationships and tailored benefits to help optimize health and well-being.
“Concierge medicine is different from traditional primary care practices in that physicians care for a very small number of patients, allowing us to spend substantially more time with each individual,” said Loni Belyea, M.D., Concierge Medicine primary care physician and fellowship-trained geriatrician. “As physicians, we have the time to build a foundation of trust, engage in more shared decision making and learn what works best for patients and their lifestyle.”
Loni Belyea, M.D.
Patients become a member of Concierge Medicine by paying a yearly membership fee. Basic membership includes a host of benefits including:
- 24/7 access to a primary care physician
- Guaranteed same- or next-day appointments
- Extended office visits to address all of your concerns
- Emphasis on lifestyle, wellness and disease prevention
- Dedicated patient advocate to coordinate testing and specialty care appointments
- Direct access to FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital
Patients can also opt to join at the Premier membership level, which includes all basic member benefits as well as annual membership to FirstHealth Fitness Total Health, personal training (30-minute weekly sessions for eight weeks, then one per quarter, for a total of 11 visits per year), quarterly nutrition counseling and bi-monthly massages.
The practice’s three board certified primary care physicians offer a wide range of services, from closely managing chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension to providing sick care. They will also focus on preventive medicine and promote positive lifestyle changes to help boost overall function and quality of life.
Julie baugher, M.D.
“The ability to focus on wellness is a major benefit of concierge medicine,” said Julie Baugher, M.D., primary care provider for Concierge Medicine. “There are so many factors that can impact health, such as movement and nutrition. We have the time to help tweak the small things that can make a major difference in long-term health.”
Having extra time to spend with patients allows physicians at Concierge Medicine to better know and care for patients.
“I’m interested in my patients’ stories – what makes them who they are and how they live their lives,” explained Miller Johnstone, M.D., primary care physician and fellowship-trained geriatrician with Concierge Medicine.
“Physical health is only one aspect of wellness. We provide whole-person care – addressing the many facets that impact a person’s overall wellbeing. Having a close physician-patient relationship provides us greater understanding to help patients achieve this higher wellness.”
Dr. Baugher, who previously served in the military and cares for many veterans and their families, agrees. “Concierge medicine offers a very personal touch because physicians and patients become almost like family. It’s how medicine used to be,” she said.
In addition to valuing patient-physician relationships, the practice actively involves patient caregivers.
miller johnstone, M.D.
“We take a holistic approach when developing a care plan for patients, focusing on physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs,” said Dr. Johnstone. “Caregivers play an important role in our patients’ lives and we try to include them in meaningful ways.”
Caregivers may be involved in treatment planning or patient education discussions. The practice also focuses on ways to improve caregiver support.
As part of a large health care system, Concierge Medicine is unique among other concierge practices. The primary care physicians with Concierge Medicine have direct access to FirstHealth’s specialty physicians and convenient laboratory testing. The practice’s dedicated patient advocate will help members navigate specialty providers and schedule appointments, and physicians can share notes and test results easily through the system’s electronic medical records.
This level of coordinated care is especially important for patients who have complex medical needs or are seeing multiple specialists. Concierge Medicine physicians communicate with their patients’ specialty providers, are able to review all medications prescribed and coordinate overall care.
“Health care today can be fragmented,” Dr. Belyea said. “When a number of providers are involved or appointment times are short, things can be missed. Concierge medicine solves that. We make sure all the pieces fit together.”
FirstHealth Concierge Medicine is located at 1690 US 1 in Southern Pines. For more information, call (910) 684-5499 or visit www.firsthealth.org/concierge.