- January 20, 2017
Company. Mobile Physician Services Industry. Health care Key. Expanding health care options for homebound patients.
The average patient for Mobile Physician Services is much different than the typical hospital patient.
New Port Richey-based Mobile Physician Services treats only homebound, and some bedridden patients, which means they are unable to get themselves to a hospital or doctor's office. “Homebound patients are relatively invisible to the health care system,” says Jeff Wacksman, vice president of operations for the company.
Patients treated by MPS generally have much more complex illnesses, Wacksman says. One patient, for example, had taken 30 ambulance rides in a 45-day span prior to using MPS, he says.
Because of the high amount of homebound patients in Florida, hospitals aren't the only competition for Mobile Physician Services. There are other home-call services in Florida, but Wacksman has taken a unique approach with his management philosophy. He says that has given Mobile Physician Service a competitive edge over the others.
The most unique aspect of the business, he says, is its true nature as a home-call health care provider. Other non-hospital based providers either work out of assisted-living facilities or only accept cash.
MPS, which uses vendors to obtain equipment like X-ray machines, shows up directly to each patient's home and accepts insurance, Wacksman says. The only equipment limitation is the company does not have access to an MRI or CT scan machine.
The core to Wacksman's management philosophy starts with recruiting. His approach is to bring in seasoned medical providers and offer them a unique benefit: They can thoroughly take their time to give each patient the care they need.
Generally, a physician seeing a patient at an office visit only has a set amount of time with each person. Mobile Physician Services doesn't deem that beneficial for care purposes. Doctors for the company see an average of seven patients per day, says Joanne Turner, Mobile Physician Services' clinical director.
“We give them as much time as they need with each patient,” Wacksman says. “They may be slightly late to the next, but it's necessary to take the time to provide quality care.”
In addition to removing time limits on patient care, the company also covers 100% of health, life, vision and dental insurance for employees — another recruiting edge. “It's very important as a business in health care to cover the costs of keeping employees healthy,” he says.
The recruiting expenses and energy the company puts out are worth it, officials say, because having top seasoned providers is imperative for the model to work. “When you're in a home, you're it,” Wacksman says.
Equally as crucial as recruiting is monitoring the emotions of staff members if a patient passes away. Turner uses an experience of hers as an example.
Turner says she became very close with a bedbound patient and watched the patient's health slowly deteriorate over time. “Patients become like family,” she says. “It's important to have a supporting staff for each other.”
The relationship between patients and providers grows enough to the point where Mobile Physician Services providers, and even office staff members, attend funerals.
On the flip side, it's all worth it when things turn around for a patient, Wacksman and Turner say. Wacksman recalls a patient who was on a “crazy amount of oxygen” and was sent home from a nursing home. He called MPS and they started working with him at his home. “We slowly got him off of his ventilator,” Wacksman says. “Eventually, he was able to take an automatic scooter to his kid's baseball game.”
Mobile Physician Services, founded in 2006, has grown from serving four Florida counties two years ago to serving an estimated 20 counties. Wacksman says it will soon enter Miami-Dade and Volusia counties. The firm declines to release specific annual revenue figures.
The growth has required a significant increase in staff. In 2010, the firm had six employees. That figure now sits at 38, split between 20 providers and 18 office staff members, and will break 50 in the second quarter of 2016. Wacksman expects to double the employee total by the end of the year.
All of the growth Mobile Physician Services has experienced over the past few years has come without the firm spending “a single dollar in true advertising,” Wacksman says. Instead, the firm has two marketers who meet with caregivers and others at hospitals and home health care agencies, Turner says.
Marketing is important for the company, and coupling that with its unique model helps bring in patients. It helps that house-call service is “a huge need,” Wacksman says. According to information from the American Academy of Home Care Physicians, there are 2 million chronically homebound patients in the United States.
“We need to get the word out,” Wacksman says. “I consider it a failure if people don't know doctors still do house calls.” That task is steeper than it sounds, though, because Medicare reimbursement, their largest challenge, limits their marketing budget. Reimbursement rates have decreased in recent years, and many health care entities struggle to recoup lost income.
But so far, the company believes it's meeting a large need. The National Committee for Quality Assurance recently recognized it as a Patient Centered Medical Home, which “makes a health care organization responsible for the total needs of a patient,” Turner says.
Only a few house-call firms nationwide received the recognition, but it's fitting with the high quality of service for which MPS wants to be known.
Wacksman and Turner hope they can continue their expansion and eventually break into new states like New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. But serving Florida is their first focus. “I have worries about Miami,” Wacksman says.
The clients Mobile Physician Services treats and works with usually are 65 or older and often have complex illnesses.
In Florida, this is a large pool of potential clients. Here's a glance at the number of people, in some of the counties the firm is licensed to work in, that would qualify for homebound care. On a statewide basis, the firm says nearly 1 million people qualify for homebound care.