As a young medical student, Ben Green, MD, was a family physician in training at a typical primary care office. Rushing around to fit in as many as 20-30 patients per day, he realized quickly that this wasn't what he envisioned medicine to be, and became disillusioned.
"Ten minutes was the average face-to-face time with a patient," says Lee who is now one of the medical directors at Carena, a Seattle-based virtual telemedicine provider of urgent and primary care. "I don't feel like that's the right thing for patients in a primary care setting. I have a lot of respect for providers who do that, but for me, it didn't fit with my comfort level."
Green found the kind of care he wanted to provide patients at Carena, which in 2007 was providing traditional house calls 24/7 as a way to reduce emergency department visits for patients covered by Microsoft, Boeing, and other self-insured employers.
"They provided us as a service for employees, as a benefit to save on cost," says Green. Back then, visits at home were lasting an hour, but were up to 20% less expensive than an ED visit.