Dr. Brian Lenzkes & Dr. Kristin Baier Discuss New DPC Practice, Low Carb MD San Diego, Set to Open in July
In mid-February, Dr. Brian Lenzkes, MD, and Dr. Kristin Baier, MD, announced their plans to open Low Carb MD San Diego Metabolic Health & DPC on the campus of San Diego Christian College this July.
Several hundred people had already expressed interest in becoming patients of the new practice, even before the launch of the official website last week, and many have had questions about various aspects of the new practice.
In order to address several of the questions and provide general information about what patients can expect at the new practice, the two doctors got together earlier this week on a video teleconference for an informative conversation. You can view the entire video below:
One of the most frequently asked questions, according to Dr. Baier, is “What is Direct Primary Care?”
Direct Primary Care (DPC) is a primary care model that takes out the middleman, Baier explained. Under the direct primary care model, which does not include the insurance company, patients pay a monthly fee, and the DPC physicians handle all of the patient’s primary care needs.
With DPC, the patient has direct access to their physician, and can connect using email, text, or phone. Unlike a physician in a traditional practice, who may have a panel of approximately 2,500 patients, DPC physicians typically care for 400-600 patients.
Patients of Low Carb MD San Diego Metabolic Health & DPC will enjoy relaxed appointments lasting 45 minutes to an hour, with the option to use telemedicine conferencing if they prefer not to come in to the office.
“Remote visits are especially effective in a time like this, when you have a viral outbreak that’s keeping people homebound,” said Baier.
Under the DPC model, patients are generally recommended to keep an existing insurance plan to cover unforeseen accidents or major medical issues that might arise. Patients often elect to switch to a higher deductible as a way to keep premiums down.
DPC physicians typically have relationships with labs and imaging centers that allow for substantially discounted prices compared with what patients would pay if going through insurance. DPC physicians also have relationships with specialty providers like orthopedics and dermatologists, and can typically get their patients quicker access and discounted prices.
“I think specialists really like working with DPC doctors because they don’t have to deal with insurance,” said Lenzkes, as he recalled an example where a specialist charged $250 cash for services that would have been billed at $1,250 with a $450 copay, if going through an insurance company. “When you take out the insurance companies, prices tend to drop significantly.”
Low Carb MD San Diego plans to offer a separate platform of metabolic health services for patients who want to keep their existing primary care. The practice will offer 3-4 month programs to bring type 2 diabetes under control or into remission, and receive treatment for conditions such as fatty liver disease and hypertension.
Lenzkes and Baier both expressed their enthusiasm for this new model that will allow them to spend far more time with each individual patient, and still have time to record educational videos, make educational presentations in the spacious lecture hall adjacent to their offices, or go for a walk on the campus with a patient.
“We will have the time to focus on prevention,” said Lenzkes. “That is something that is usually lacking in Western medicine. We can focus on how to keep you healthy, and if you are sick, we can figure out how to get you healthy.”
In Lenzkes’ current practice, he is booked out six to eight months for an annual exam. In the new practice, booking an appointment for next week would pose no problem.
“It’s exciting for us as docs who have been kind of beaten down by the system,” Lenzkes said, “to be able to take all the paperwork out of it and be able to spend more time with our patients.”
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Baier. “The patients are happier, the physicians are happier, and the healthcare is improved. We’re able to focus on prevention and metabolic health,”
Fewer patients in the practice means there won’t be a huge waiting room, and patients will be able to head straight back to the office to see the doctor.
Another frequently asked question is “How much does DPC cost?”
The monthly cost for DPC will be $75-150, with some variation for older patients or those with more comorbidities. There is generally a one-time initiation fee of $200, which will be waived for Dr. Lenzkes’ existing patients. There are no hidden fees and no nickel-and-dime co-pays.
Low Carb MD San Diego will feature the latest remote monitoring tools, including scales, blood pressure cuffs, and ECGs.
Applications to join our primary care practice will be available in Spring 2020. If you are interested in receiving an application and receiving practice-related emails, please use the sign-up form on the Sign-Up page.