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Foot Pain Shouldn’t Wait

Tea Nguyen, DPM insists that foot pain shouldn't wait and that direct care offers to fill this gap.

Patients deserve fast, hassle-free medical care but too often patients are waiting weeks to months to see a specialist. The harm in waiting this long for appointments could mean the difference between acute care management versus visiting the emergency room. 

A lovely woman, let’s call her Jan, needed podiatric attention for her foot pain but her in-network podiatrist wasn’t available for a few months out. Luckily, she found me online and I saw her immediately. Upon exam, her foot pain on the surface level looked like a painful callus that needed to be reduced with a sharp blade. Once I removed the dead layer of tissue, there was pus extruding from the bottom of her foot. There were no other signs typical of an infection like swelling, fluctuance, redness or even a puncture wound. I let the patient know of my finding and she said, ‘well no wonder my foot hurt!’ I cleansed and drained the area, applied a dry sterile dressing and a protective pad. No antibiotics were needed in this case. The good news is her pain went away and the expected news is, she’d benefit from routine foot care on a monthly basis so she can stay active without the worries on her feet. 

To some, treating a callus on the foot may sound like benign work, which may be a reason why many insurances do not cover this essential podiatric service, and also why many podiatrists working within the constraints of corporate medicine do not offer ‘callus care.’

This was one major reason I chose to opt out of all insurances and became a Direct Care podiatry practice, to see patients as soon as they need it. Feet are a finicky thing and subtle foot pain often cannot wait for months to be evaluated. 

 

This was one major reason I chose to opt out of all insurances and became a Direct Care podiatry practice, to see patients as soon as they need it. Feet are a finicky thing and subtle foot pain often cannot wait for months to be… Click To Tweet

 

This is one story of an acute case gone well but had she waited for her in-network doctor’s appointment, who knows what could have happened. I’ve seen far too many cases where patients like Jan waited too long and went on to develop a severe infection requiring antibiotics, emergency care and even amputation. I was the one performing these amputations and many stories started out with callus pain that they didn’t think anything of, or worse, their own doctors didn’t think anything of it.  

Opting out of insurance gave me the freedom to give patients the care they need to address their foot pain. I don’t have to work within the restraints of insurance burdens like prior authorization or having to see a lot of patients, often double or triple booking to accommodate for the decreasing reimbursement rates. 

Instead, I get to decide the rate that’ll work for my small business and patients who want faster access and personalized care pay for it themselves. When patients can be seen immediately, resources for emergency care can be preserved. Patients are paying for better access to their doctors. Direct Care is a win-win situation for the physician, patient and community. 

In addition to offering Jan immediate medical care, she is now on a monthly preventive foot care program with me, a highlight of a Direct Care model. Additionally, Jan has access to innovative therapies for her calluses including foot fillers that support her aging feet and custom orthotics, which are prescription medical devices placed inside her usual shoes for protection. None of these options are a covered benefit of traditional health insurance without some restriction. Interestingly, surgery is a covered benefit and is sometimes offered over self paying nonsurgical options. However, as a surgeon myself, I know surgery is not suitable for everyone and preventive care is much cheaper than sick care. 

If I can warn consumers one thing about health care, it’s that health insurance does not equal health care and that the consumer can control their health since they control where the dollars are going. Choosing a direct care doctor means patients do not have to worry about fragmented care should their insurance plans change and patients will always know the prices before service is rendered. Price transparency is lacking, which is one of the drivers for the exorbitant costs of healthcare, not to mention the high monthly premiums and deductibles and still having to wait for weeks to months to see a doctor.

Direct Care is about prevention, education and innovative care to maintain a person’s longevity. Human anatomy and physiology is incredibly complex, but that doesn’t mean the delivery of medical care should be too. Consumers are incredibly savvy and are looking to have more quality time with their doctors to get complete care. Direct Care fills in the gap that consumers are looking for; easy and fast to access medical care to be free of foot pain. There’s a podiatrist for that. 

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