Healthcare Policy Innovations: Bethany Hays, MD


If you got the best healers in your community
and you put them together and you ask them, “What does it take for you to do your best
work?” That’s the project that became True North. Well one of the policies that
we decided on early on was to be a fee for service organization. We did not want to contract
with insurance companies. A typical practitioner who is double-booking every fifteen minutes
has got seven and a half minutes to spend with a patient, all they really have time
to do is treat the symptoms. Not being an insurance driven organization allows our practitioners
to take as much time as they need to with their patients. It means I can sit down with
a patient and say, “Tell me your story, and give me the long version.” We wanted
to have access to people who couldn’t pay cash up front. Our practitioners have
agreed to do ten percent of their care fee free or for time credits. Hour Exchange Portland
is an organization in southern Maine where you can trade an hour of your time for an
hour of someone else’s time. And then they can take that Time Credit and spend it to
buy healthcare at True North. Well, let me tell you about a patient of mine named Brooke.
Brooke was a music teacher who was having problems with weight loss and fatigue and
a terrible skin rash that had been treated with every known cream and drug that you can
imagine. She wasn’t making a lot of money teaching music and really didn’t have a
way to access healthcare of any type, and so a fee for service place like True North
she didn’t really think was an option for her. One of her students knew about True North
and knew that we used Hour Exchange Portland. In fact, her students donated their Time Credits
to her so that she could make her first appointment. When we saw Brooke, we were able to really
go back and ask when did this problem start and what was going on for the six months before
that? With a change in diet and with improvement in immune system and gastrointestinal function
she’s really been able to have a lot more energy for her work. So coming to True North
was really a breakthrough for her at getting to the root of her problems. Had we had a
series of seven and a half minute visits, we might never have gotten to the underlying
causes that were driving the symptoms that brought her in. I’m Bethany Hayes, and I’ve
seen that innovations help us heal our patients.

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