Medical school barely teaches physicians how to open practices, balance the books and staff appropriately, let alone how to mitigate the challenges of running a small business and stay afloat in a pandemic. This past year has turned the practice of medicine — and by extension, many physicians’ lives — upside down; and so, during National Physicians Week, we want to recognize the contributions that physicians make to the lives of their patients and the communities they serve.
On behalf of our entire Signify Health organization, I’d like to personally thank our nationwide network of nearly 9,000 credentialed providers — physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants — who stayed true to our mission of bringing healthcare safely home, for thousands of older adults who were isolated, lonely, and afraid to visit typical sites of care in their area. In the spring of 2020, our providers conducted virtual exams but with proper PPE and safety protocols, they were able to resume visiting people and conducting in-home health evaluations in some areas by the summer. Oftentimes, our healthcare providers were among the few people our members saw face-to-face for months.
Our physicians have varied backgrounds and experiences, but they all play an important role in helping activate the home as part of the care continuum. They deliver diagnostic and screening services, evaluate health conditions, and document social determinants of health (SDOH) that impact member outcomes, such as abuse and neglect, as well access to food, transportation, and financial resources for things like life-saving medications.
In addition, our in-home healthcare practitioners assess and monitor patients’ complex therapies in the comfort of their own homes, ensuring the same protocols as a clinical setting. This allows people to initiate these therapies more quickly and enables them to stay on their prescribed therapy as long as necessary, with minimal disruption to their daily lives.
Since joining Signify Health, I've learned the personal stories of many of our field physicians. They are an impressive team of dedicated and experienced medical professionals, and I want to take a moment to share a few of their stories.
Kaishauna Guidry, MD: Dr. Guidry lives in Southern California and became a physician after getting married and having three children. She specializes in internal medicine, with a focus on palliative care and alleviating the suffering of people with serious and complex illnesses. Working one day a week, she conducts in-home evaluations for Signify Health, where she can take the extra time with people to help educate them about their health status. “I see seniors with great healthcare needs,” Dr. Guidry says. “I want to empower them by helping them know what is going on with their body and how their medications work.” One time she was working with an elderly woman who was living alone after the recent death of her husband. The woman told her that she was having some vision difficulty after recently falling and hitting her head. Dr. Guidry realized the seriousness of her condition and alerted case management for a referral to see a specialist. Another patient purchased a blood pressure cuff, but had no idea what normal blood pressure was or how to use it. Dr. Guidry appreciates the extra time she can spend with people , helping them with both their medical needs and showing them how to take better care of themselves at home.
“I see seniors with great healthcare needs. I want to empower them by helping them know what is going on with their body and how their medications work.” — Dr. Kaishauna Guidry
Jack Bergstein, MD: With more than 28 years of experience in trauma, general surgery, and critical care, Dr. Bergstein has held academic teaching roles at the Medical College of Wisconsin, the University of Illinois at Peoria, and West Virginia University. Now, he lives in Washington state where he meets people from all walks of life in this role, from Microsoft and Boeing engineers; to artists; and the unemployed. “It’s an honor for people to invite me into their homes, whether it’s a palatial waterfront property or a humble home.” During his in-home evaluations, he has identified a number of people with new onset atrial fibrillation (aFib), which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. He fondly remembers one woman who told him that he saved her from having a stroke. For him, the key to being a physician is communication and compassion. “You need to be a teacher and listen with your heart.”
“The key to being a physician is communication and compassion. You need to be a teacher and listen with your heart.” — Dr. Jack Bergstein
Frank Booth, MD: Dr. Booth was educated at Oxford University and has 48 years of experience in the medical field as a critical care surgeon. During that time, he served as an associate professor at the State University of New York in Buffalo, held medical director roles for pharmaceutical companies, and served as the Chief Medical Officer for a small biotech company. During his seven years working with Signify Health, he has conducted more than 3,700 in-home evaluations. “One of the reasons I enjoy my role is that I can spend more time with patients than I typically would during an office visit.” This allows him to explain people’s medical conditions and how to take their medications. He says it’s important to see people in their home so he can see how they live and identify gaps in care that might not be apparent during an office or hospital visit.
“One of the reasons I enjoy my role is that I can spend more time with patients than I typically would during an office visit.” — Dr. Frank Booth
Dennis Koper, MD: Dr. Koper is an emergency medicine physician with more than 30 years of experience. After spending much of his career on the business side of healthcare, he joined Signify Health’s network of healthcare providers so he could care for patients once again. Because of COVID-19, many of the seniors he visits do not see many people, so they look forward to his visit and are so appreciative of the attention he provides. His goal during an evaluation is to leave the patient with some suggested change(s) to their daily life, whether significant in nature or a small tweak, to improve their health. “It’s important to see the homes of chronically ill patients, at least once a year. There’s no better way to gain the insight into a patient’s health than when you see how they live.”
“It’s important to see the homes of chronically ill patients, at least once a year. There’s no better way to gain insight into a patient’s health than when you see how they live.” — Dr. Dennis Koper
These are just a few of the Signify Health physicians who are obtaining a more holistic picture of an individual’s health and helping to bring healthcare homeword. I am grateful to be able to work with such talented and dedicated professionals. Thank you for your commitment and passion for helping people spend more happy, healthy days at home.
Marc Rothman, MD is the Chief Medical Officer at Signify Health.