Dr. Maura McLaughlin, a family medicine physician who has been practicing with the University of Virginia Health System’s clinic at Stoney Creek in Nellysford for the last nine years, will open Blue Ridge Family Practice in Crozet January 1. The practice will be on the subscription fee model and located on the second floor of the Clover Lawn shops next to the office of Dr. Barbara Mandell.
Dr. McLaughlin received her medical training at Loyola University in Chicago and did her residency at U.Va., where she met her husband, Dr. Timothy McLaughlin, who is now the medical director for U.Va. Family Practice in Crozet, a clinic in the Clover Lawn building next to his wife’s future office. The couple and their two young sons live in Crozet.
McLaughlin chose U.Va. for residency through friend connections who suggested that she check out the Stoney Creek office. She did a rotation there. “I saw that my friends weren’t just talking up their school.” From there fate took over.
The move to go on her own “is courageous or crazy,” she said. “Maybe both. There’s a new model of primary care, direct primary care. In the traditional model—fee for service—there are incentives that many say are mal-aligned with providing the best possible care to patients. More and more people have high-deductible health insurance. They often pay out of pocket for the first $5,000 of care. That’s the majority of the cost of their primary care. That cost is higher than what the health insurance company pays. People do need catastrophic insurance, but we need to keep people healthy in a way that’s affordable to them. Traditional insurance payments add 40 percent for office overhead. Most offices try to see patients faster to make ends meet. The quality piece comes in because patients and physicians miss having time to talk. I’ll have overhead, but not the insurance part.
“‘Concierge medicine’ as it is sometimes called came out a few years ago. Some doctors are asking what if I didn’t have the marble countertop, but offered service affordable to middle class families,” Dr. McLaughlin said.
She will charge $30 per month per head for patients age 30 and under, $15 per month for children whose parents join, and $60 per month for patients older than 31. So a family of four that includes two kids would pay $90 – $150 per month for primary care.
“This model is very adaptable to community needs,” said Dr. McLaughlin. “I love seeing patients from all socio-economic backgrounds. I try to price it where it’s affordable. It takes the insurance middle-man out.”
Also bending the prevailing reality, she will make house calls! “I’ve had experience with that,” she said. For newborns up to eight weeks old, those visits are included in the fee, as well as for those back home after discharge from a hospital. Other home visits will cost $50 for trips within five miles of Crozet. A mileage charge will be added for greater distances.
“The personal connection is missing in a lot of professional relationships. I’m looking for that.” She said she expects to spend 30 minutes with each patient.
Patients needing admission to a hospital will be able to choose the hospital they go to. (Dr. McLaughlin continues to have a teaching connection with U.Va.) But once there, their care will fall under the hospital’s team of doctors, though Dr. McLaughlin will continue to follow her patients.
“This model aligns everyone’s interests and it reduces system costs,” she said. “Patient satisfaction is higher. The patient and doctor know each other It makes an enormous difference to be able to feel trust. This is a system that individual primary care physicians thought up and started telling each other about. One of the things I love about it is being able to apply best practices to a person. I’m really excited to practice in the community I live in to take care of families. I love living here.”
According to the website Healthgrades, Dr. McLaughlin’s patients at Stoney Creek score their satisfaction with her care as five out of five stars.
She is accepting new patients. Call her at 434-409-3637 or email her at [email protected] familypractice.org. The practice has a website, www.blueridge familypractice.org, that also offers a contact form.