Frequently Asked Questions
What is Functional Medicine?
Functional Medicine is a specific medical practice that considers all aspects of patient health- mind, body, and spirit- from an evidence based medical perspective. Functional Medicine providers don’t just focus on treating symptoms, but rather seek to uncover and treat the actual cause of those symptoms.
What Type of Provider is a Functional Medicine Provider?
Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, Nutritionists, and Chiropractors are the most common healthcare professionals who practice Functional Medicine. Be aware that many Nutritionists and Chiropractors are restricted from ordering diagnostics and only Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, and PA's can prescribe medications.
Why Functional Medicine?
True healthcare by its nature requires a strong patient-provider relationship. Insurance based healthcare has limited the ability of medical professionals by restricting time spent with patients, limiting ordering of appropriate diagnostics, and in many cases limiting treatment to addressing symptoms with pharmaceuticals. My previous experience as a primary care provider has shown me that it is not possible to provide true healthcare without spending the time needed to fully assess the patient, review health history, order appropriate diagnostics, and recommend effective treatment plans that go beyond simply treating symptoms. In addition, the ability to respond to patient questions in a timely manner is severely limited in an insurance based practice due to the large patient load each provider must carry.
What is a Health Partners appointment like?
My goal is that your experience will be unlike any primary care or specialist appointment you have had. I spend a significant amount of time with my patients (new appointments can be an hour and a half) reviewing your health concerns, past medical and lifestyle history, previous diagnostics and treatments, and current medications and supplements. I provide a full examination of you based upon our lengthy discussion, and then end with recommendations that are based on significant input from you, the patient. I believe you know your body better than any healthcare provider, and you are a critical part of the recommendation and treatment plan. It is critical that any recommendations work for you, the patient. Continued and timely communication is crucial to an effective treatment plan. Treatment plans can include dietary changes, lifestyle plans, medications, and/or supplements. Prescription medications, additional diagnostics, imaging, and referrals for medical and non-medical treatment may be ordered as well. Follow up visits are used to monitor progress and make adjustments to treatment plans as indicated. Frequency of follow up is based on the patient and the situation, and can range from weekly to yearly. Each patient is an individual, and as such each treatment plan is based on individual health and personal situation. I commit to a timely response to your questions or concerns between appointments. For this reason, I limit the number of patients I see.
Do you accept Insurance or Medicare?
No. It is simply not possible to provide quality healthcare in a restricted insurance based environment. Average insurance based primary care appointment times range between 15-20 minutes, and health outcomes are directly related to the amount of time spent with the patient. Many primary care offices take up to 48 hours to respond to calls, and referrals can take up to 3 weeks to obtain. The insurance based primary care provider is required to see up to 30 patients per day, depending on the practice. And the total number of patients that provider is required to carry can range from 1000 to 2500. A recent estimate stated that providing appropriate care at these patient loads would mean a 21.7-hour work day. This is simply not acceptable for you, the patient. I limit my practice to 400 patients, and spend significant time reviewing your record before and after each appointment. I provide care plans to my patients, and respond to calls and messages in a timely manner. Diagnostic orders, referrals, and medication refills are frequently done the same day, and within 24 hours in most cases.
What kind of patients can benefit from Functional Medicine?
All patients can benefit from the Functional Medicine approach to health. Better healthcare translates to better outcomes. I recommend a short complementary phone consult before accepting a new patient to determine whether our practice will be a good fit for you (and us!). While I strongly urge prevention and early treatment, a large number of our patients come to us with multiple chronic conditions that are no longer being treated effectively by traditional allopathic approaches used within insurance based practices. These often include GI, autoimmune, Lyme, Mold/Biotoxin Illness, sex hormones, and thyroid. We also provide Functional support to cancer patients, whether they have chosen to undergo chemotherapy/radiation or have chosen to treat naturally. Where indicated, I am committed to communication and working with your other healthcare providers to the extent possible and based on patient desires. Many traditional healthcare providers are not aware of the actions and potential interactions of supplements with medications, and therefore it is important to consider this in any treatment plan.
Do you provide primary care services?
Yes. However, I recommend that my patients who carry insurance have an established primary care provider within their insurance plan. That said, many of our patients use Health Partners for their primary care needs.
Do you see patients for acute care?
Yes. Many of our patients would rather come to our office than go to an urgent care center for acute visits.
For patients on record we are available for acute care visits, usually same day availability.
Can you prescribe medications?
Yes, I can and will prescribe medications if indicated and based on patient desire to use pharmaceuticals. That said, my goal is to educate my patients on the mechanism of action, likely duration of treatment, and potential side effects of the pharmaceuticals they are taking so they can make intelligent choices.
Do you recommend Medication Changes?
That depends. If I am prescribing the medication or assume responsibility for prescribing the medication, then I will recommend changes as indicated. If your medications are prescribed by another provider, I will not interfere but will educate my patient and suggest they speak with their prescriber if I have concerns about interactions, dosages, or side effects.
What is a Medication Review?
New patients and returning patients find that I review their prescribed and over the counter medications and supplements for interactions and potential side effects. This is a critical part of the healthcare visit, and often not given the attention it warrants at insurance based healthcare visits. More than half a million reported cases of drug poisoning occurred in 2015 alone in the US- and that is only reported cases! Many patients are not aware that the symptoms and illness they experience may well be related to inappropriate use of medications and supplements. Many patients do not realize that even over the counter medications can be unsafe and can interact with supplements and prescribed medications. It is surprising to me the number of symptoms that can be alleviated simply by addressing prescription medications, over the counter medications, and inappropriate use of supplements. I recommend all patients taking prescription medication regularly review those medications with their pharmacist, as significant interactions and adverse effects are common.
Do you recommend supplements?
If indicated. I encourage all patients to view supplements in the same way they view medications- even supplements must be metabolized by the body and are very much capable of interacting with medications or other supplements to produce adverse effects.
Can you order Diagnostics and what is the cost?
Yes. I can and will recommend diagnostics if indicated and based upon patient situation. Our practice has relationships with Quest, Labcorp, and Consolidated for insurance based patients. When possible, we will order diagnostics for our insurance covered patients through these labs. Please note that insurance is continuing to restrict the ordering of diagnostics, and many insurance based providers are actually rated by insurance companies based upon the number of diagnostics they order. Because we do not participate with insurance, we are not restricted from ordering diagnostics if indicated. Functional Medicine often utilizes “twenty first century” diagnostics which are much more comprehensive than those generally available through insurance, but these are often not covered by insurance. Examples include detailed hormone testing, neurotransmitter testing, DNA stool analysis, micronutrient analysis, food sensitivity, and mold/biotoxin panels. Please see our website for a mostly complete list of diagnostic laboratories we use. We are often asked the cost of diagnostic testing. That is very much patient specific, and is based on patient condition, previous diagnostics, and patient ability/willingness to pay if not covered by insurance. Diagnostics can range from $10 to several hundred dollars depending on the type of panel. We will make recommendations, but will never order diagnostics without your understanding of the cost and benefit. It’s your money, and your choice. Many companies are now offering the ability to order your own diagnostics online. A few comments here:
1) I often see new patients who have spent hundreds of dollars ordering diagnostics that are not necessary, and strongly suggest you discuss with your medical provider before needlessly spending your money on diagnostics that may be of no value to you.
2) Our private pay pricing as a healthcare practice is almost always less expensive than ordering diagnostics yourself. We can provide input and recommend the best diagnostics to order, provide guidance on whether insurance coverage is possible, and interpret results for you.
Can you order Imaging?
Yes. I can and will order imaging diagnostics when indicated.
Do you refer to medical specialists?
Yes. I will refer patients to medical specialists if indicated or beyond the scope of my practice.
What do you charge?
We have multiple plan and individual appointment options outlined on our website. We strive to keep our appointment costs reasonable, and want our patients to understand that the time they actually pay for is generally far less than I spend on your case. Please call us directly if you have further questions about pricing.
Do you offer services to patients who are considered low income, or living with extreme financial hardships?
Yes, we do. Our practice believes that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. We accept a limited number of patients who are considered low income. Find out if you meet our qualifications by contacting our office directly.