Many health systems promote digital patient portals as medical advancements, even though the lack of contact with someone with medical training continues to be a source of frustration for patients. Sometimes voice messages aren’t returned, or patients — perhaps put on hold yet again — give up after unsuccessfully trying to reach a nurse or provider.
Liberty Family Medicine is different. As a direct primary care clinic, Liberty skips the impersonal portal and provides an actual nurse who answers phone calls, texts, and emails. There are no confusing portals or switchboards to go through to get to a medical professional.
After all, isn’t that the way medicine should be? Even better, that level of patient service – customer service – isn't an added perk for Liberty Family Medicine memberships. Instead, it’s a standard service that all member patients receive.
If the phone call is about an urgent health concern, the nurse will talk to the patient to gather more information so that the provider can decide if the patient needs to be seen that day or the next day for evaluation.
“Our nurses answer the phones. They’re getting heard right away,” says Liberty Family Medicine Health Ambassador Heather Hargrove. “That’s so different, because it’s just one more step in the process of increasing accessibility and convenience for our patients. The continuum of medical care is there even when your doctor is with another patient.”
With a phone call during clinic hours, a nurse can collect pertinent patient information including a description of symptoms to relay to the provider. In most cases, the nurse may call back or respond to a text or email. However, other times, the provider will ask to see the patient in clinic for further evaluation. Liberty’s nurses play a leading and crucial role in facilitating that communication, extending the convenience and accessibility of medical care.
And it goes further than being a facilitator. Because Liberty’s direct primary care model is based on creating and nurturing relationships with patients, nurses work in close conjunction with the providers to build those relationships.
“One thing that separates Liberty is preventive and follow up care,” Heather continues. “The nurses play an integral part in that. If you’re on a new medication, are you handling it ok? That helps the provider have more reach. Nurses help keep that communication going.”
Nurses often recognize phone numbers and voices when a caller’s ID doesn’t automatically show up, which is another indication of how Liberty’s medical team – from nurses to providers– is invested in their patients. Smaller patient panels give Liberty providers and nurses the time that patients need and deserve.
“We’re unique in a medical setting in that we are truly combining medicine and customer service,” Heather says. One Facebook reviewer described the satisfying patient experience as “the way that medical care should be.”
The patient commented, “There are no hours spent in a waiting room full of sick people; they are ready for me as soon as I walk in. And if I only need a quick phone call or text message to get my answer, no need to come in at all. Everything about this place is amazing …"
Liberty’s Columbia staff nurses are Lindsi and Heather, who help patients monitor progress on health concerns ranging from diabetes and weight loss to medication management and a variety of other concerns. Ear cleaning, blood draws, and other tasks are also part of their duties. In Jefferson City, nurse Lori recently joined the Liberty family at the clinic there and will be providing the same services to the Jefferson City members.
“They're genuinely great nurses and great people,” Heather says. “They’re such a crucial part of our communication with our patients.”
Because Liberty offers an affordable membership model, there are no copays required to use the services offered. With this model, the clinic has the freedom to care for patients the way they deserve: with full control and personalized attention, which often begins with the nurse answering the patient’s call.