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Honoring Signify Health physicians: Closing care gaps in communities across the country

By Signify Health Team on 3/30/23 6:45 AM

Exactly 90 years ago, the people of Winder, Georgia came together to observe the very first “Doctors Day” – a day to show thanks to the local physicians who cared for members of their rural community. Over the next few decades, Doctors Day spread to communities across the country, and in 1990, it was formally recognized as a national holiday. Just as the roles of physicians have expanded and diversified as medicine has evolved, so, too, has the holiday. This week, the nation recognizes the more than one million physicians across the country who have dedicated their lives to keeping us healthy.

As we observe National Physicians Week, Signify Health honors the commitment, kindness, and knowledge our physicians routinely demonstrate in the homes of health plan members. Signify Health physicians are vital to our mission as we strive to build trusted relationships and improve health and wellbeing in communities across the country. 

Every day, Signify Health physicians spend valuable time with members in their homes conducting in-home health evaluations. They review medications, perform diagnostic screenings, identify social determinants of health, answer any questions members might have about their healthcare, and work closely with health plans and primary care teams to close gaps in care. 

As the nation celebrates National Physicians Week, we’re placing a spotlight on two Signify Health physicians who exemplify our values, and whose experiences illustrate just how critical their work is in the communities they serve.

The value of time and trust

Dr. Marcie Leeds, a Signify Health physician in Phoenix, Arizona, understands the value of spending time with members, and forging trusted relationships with members to keep them connected to their treatments, their primary care team, and their health. According to Dr. Leeds, the members she visits are regularly “shocked” that a physician is coming to their home to examine them one-on-one. 

“Nowadays, healthcare visits are rushed, and most members feel like they don’t have an opportunity to ask questions or inquire about something because they are pushed through a medical appointment quickly,” Dr. Leeds said. “Once you show that you are more than willing to sit down one-on-one and have a conversation with them, they are impressed, happy, and understand that their health plan and care team actually cares about them.” 

In members’ homes, Dr. Leeds serves as a vital link between members, their health plan, and their primary care team. She documents physical and behavioral health, identifies health risks like environmental hazards, and performs diagnostic and preventive screenings. If there are abnormal findings such as high blood pressure, irregular heart beats, or carotid bruits, she can call the member’s PCP on the spot, schedule a follow-up appointment, and, if necessary, arrange for transportation. 

Being in the home, Dr. Leeds says, provides her with a unique vantage point from which she can ensure members’ holistic health needs are seen, documented, and addressed. 

“Not only am I in their environment, but it's private and allows them to feel comfortable,” Dr. Leeds said. “It gives them an opportunity to see me – a physician – as human, on their level.” 

The partner PCPs didn’t know they needed 

Signify Health physicians are an essential tool for primary care providers, and serve as an extension of members’ primary care team. Once in members’ homes she serves in Lexington, Kentucky, Dr. Cathy Hammond is able to see things that give primary care providers a window into their home, and a better understanding of the people they treat.  

“The PCP gets a snapshot of a member in an office setting, but we see things like the number of steps to enter their home, the state of disrepair those steps may be in, and the ability of the member to function comfortably and with ease in their own home,” Dr. Hammond said. “We are able to make referrals to the member’s plan, encourage participation of their loved ones, and ensure PCPs are aware of their health and overall quality of life.” 

With visibility into members’ homes, Dr. Hammond routinely identifies risks that the average PCP would miss. Sometimes, she says, the simplest suggestion can result in a huge improvement for the member and even their loved ones. 

On a recent home visit, Dr. Hammond noted the member had a dry cough that had persisted for years. The cough had gotten so severe that it was difficult for the member to sleep, eat, or carry on a conversation. Dr. Hammond reviewed the member’s medication history and discovered the cough was a side-effect of long-term use of a specific blood pressure medication. Dr. Hammond contacted the member’s PCP and suggested an alternative medication. 

“Sure enough, a few weeks later the daughter stopped me to say I had made her mom a ‘new woman’ and the whole family was finally able to enjoy quality time together,” Dr. Hammond said. 

Honoring physicians across the country

As Signify continues to celebrate National Physicians Week we encourage our colleagues and peers to take time to recognize the physicians in their lives – the individuals who have spent years studying the science of medicine, dedicated their lives to the wellbeing of others, and are tireless in their commitment to educating people about their health. 

Interested in learning more about clinical careers with Signify Health? Find out more here.