Karl Lambert, family nurse practitioner and Samaritan member, joined the world of health care like most in the medical field, with a desire to serve patients. Armed with a degree from the University of Kentucky, he joined a large family practice. Not long into his career, however, he “knew something had to be done to change the landscape of how medical care was delivered.”
As a nurse practitioner he was seeing 25 to 30 patients a day, which did not allow him to spend the quality time with them he felt they deserved. Once the last patient left for the day, he began the process of paperwork that often took him until late at night to finish.
“It was not what I envisioned doing for the remainder of my career,” Karl says.
This was before the Affordable Care Act, but, even then, he could see that “the cost of care was rising and the quality of care suffering.”
After much prayer and seeking counsel, he ventured out with a mission to provide affordable and accessible urgent care despite the odds against him: a lack of MD credentials and the tendency for small practices to be eaten up by big hospitals and organizations.
He persisted and began serving patients through a house call practice until 2014, when he learned of the Direct Primary Care model.
“It was one of those ‘aha’ moments and I knew immediately this model was a common sense and sustainable approach to the delivery of primary care,” Karl says.
He opened MediRedi Integrative Clinic at two separate locations in Washington state, hired two doctors, and is looking for more “courageous practitioners to join us in this endeavor to change the landscape of medicine.”
We recently asked him some questions about his practice. Here are his answers.
How does your practice differ from a typical one?
What sets us apart is our holistic and integrative approach to primary care. We do include all aspects that make up a patient including their spiritual, psych-social, physical, and emotional well-being. This model of delivery affords us the time to ferret out the root cause of what the patient may be presenting with at the time of their visit. We can spend 30 to 45 minutes if not longer on some cases versus the typical seven to 10 minutes we’re used to in a conventional family practice setting.
Dr. Gillian Shaw, the RediMedi physician, and I are trained specifically in the use of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) and the Bale/Doneen cardiac and stroke prevention program. Both therapies are very preventative and wellness-oriented. Personally, I work with a lot of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), the most common endocrine disorder, found in about 10 percent of the female population. I use a very integrative approach that is evidenced-based to help turn around the debilitating effects of this endocrine "imbalance.” It gives me great joy to see the quality of their lives improve dramatically. One mom of two young children no longer has to experience two miserable days in bed each month while her husband comes home from work to tend to their children.
What are some of the advantages to your practice that patients most appreciate?
The advantages to our practice, along with most DPC practices, is the communication piece. Having the ability to text and email your doctor or nurse practitioner is significant. Patients love this convenience, and often it cuts down on the need for an office visit. Telemedicine works very well with this model, as I have patients who are college students and others that live in other states, but they have elected to remain as part of our practice.
What are some of the problems with regulation of health care that you are able to avoid by having a DPC?
The fewer regulatory burdens allow us to get things done for our patients more efficiently and in a timely manner. We work with imaging and diagnostic centers that can often get our patients an appointment on the same day or within a few days versus weeks or months if we have to go through the conventional system. The cost of images is a fraction of the cost, and the quality of service is as good if not even better. We also have the freedom to work with the medical tourism industry and organizations such as the Surgical Center of Oklahoma or Sano Surgery to get the absolute best options for our patients should they need surgery.
Can you elaborate on your slogan, “We care for you in a new and better way with direct care”?
"We care for you and a new and better way with direct care" means that we are working for you. Our care for you is personalized and individualized to your medical needs, not the needs of the masses. In the case of hormones, we work at optimizing your levels based on 30-plus years of solid, evidence-based research so that the objective numbers or labs correlate with how that individual is feeling. We optimize wellness so that we can prevent that first stroke or heart attack. This is much in thanks to the great work of Dr. Brad Bale and Dr. Amy Doneen. Both were featured recently in a Netflix documentary stating that their work is now considered the premier model for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes.
Why did you join Samaritan Ministries? What has your experience been with having a need?
We chose Samaritan because its principles and the sharing of one another's needs is well grounded, and the concept has been around I would say for about 2,000 years, give or take a few years. We have had great customer service and, the few times we have had to use it, it has worked great. In my opinion as a "visionary,” combining the health care sharing models such as Samaritan alongside the DPC concept is a sustainable paradigm that should take us well into the foreseeable future.