While I have been following him for a while, I finally had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Jeff Gold last weekend while attending a conference in Boston. He co-sponsored a gathering of doctors, medical students, and consultants who are dedicated, or at least interested, in the Direct Primary Care model of practicing medicine.
The article below was published on the website of Harvard Medical School’s primary care department. It is great to see that this innovative model of healthcare which is truly centered on the doctor:patient relationship is gaining the attention of such a prestigious institution.
Currently, I believe that there are five DPC practices in Maine, two in New Hampshire, one in Massachusetts, and one in Rhode Island, with many more to come in the very near future. We say, “The more, the merrier!”
Michael A. Ciampi, M.D.
A Visit to Gold Direct Care: Massachusetts’ First Direct Primary Care Practice
In the Center’s quest to learn more about the direct primary care (DPC) model and movement, four members from the Center’s team traveled to Marblehead, MA in early August to visit Gold Direct Care. Gold Direct Care is located in the heart of downtown Marblehead, in a beautiful building with a quaint courtyard. The office was thoughtfully designed; the front room was saturated with natural light and the waiting area looked more like a modest living room instead of a doctor’s waiting room. Megan, the practice’s nurse, one of three employees, immediately greeted us as we entered, and led us back to Dr. Gold’s office.
Presently, Dr. Jeff Gold is the sole provider at Gold Direct Care. A family physician by training, he attended the University of Massachusetts Medical School. After completing his residency in Arizona, he moved back home to Massachusetts and worked for the North Shore Physicians Group. However, Jeff was continuously frustrated with the amount of time he spent coding instead of delivering care, and after much thought and research, decided to leave the traditional system and open a DPC practice. Subsequently, Gold Direct Care became the first DPC practice in the state.
After our customary introductions, re-introductions, and an occasional fist bump, Dr. Gold dove right into the details of his practice’s direct primary care model. It was easy to see that Dr. Gold loves what he does; as he spoke, his voice was laced with fervor and passion. He was most animated, however, when he described the kind of care he is able to deliver through his model. Dr. Gold is relentlessly dedicated to improving care delivery and the patient experience, particularly in terms of access. During our visit, Dr. Gold was frequently checking his phone, sending texts and making short calls to his many patients. His goal is to be available for patients whenever they need his services. To illustrate this point, he told us about receiving a text from a patient at 6pm about his daughter’s sudden onset of ear pain. He invited the father and daughter to meet him at his office at 7:20pm that same evening so that he could examine the child and resolve the issue.
Texting, Rubicon MD, and Twine Health are examples of the types of technologies that Dr. Gold actively incorporates into his practice. However, Dr. Gold insists that these technologies do not replace the human aspect and quality of care, but rather, facilitate it. In our other encounters with DPC the Center’s research team has learned that innovative technology is one of the hallmarks of direct primary care, and that there are many tools available. Our Center’s Innovation Director, Paola Abello, noted that what struck her about the DPC model “is the flexibility in allowing doctors to innovate. It’s a platform that allows you test innovations while focusing on the patient-doctor relationship. If I were a startup, I’d be thinking of ways to work with this model.”
Direct Primary Care models across the country face unique challenges and successes going forward: negotiating state laws and policies on insurance, financial viability, replicability, and concerns about quality and oversight. As the first DPC practice in the state of Massachusetts, Gold Direct Care has faced its share of challenges and successes. However, this visit modeled another important, and perhaps different, core belief in the DPC movement: health is accomplished through a reliable and trusting partnership between physician and patient.