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Meeting the Challenge to Improve Health Care
Clayton Family Practice Joins Avance Care
Regenesis MD Offers Expanded Integrative Care

Keeping up with changes in health care in ways that best serve the interests of both patients and providers can be a formidable task, notes Dr. Bhavna Vaidya-Tank; “but it’s a challenge I’m determined to meet.”.

Dr. Vaidya-Tank

For more than a decade, she has been the owner of the Family Wellness Clinic in Clayton, and in recent years established the Regenesis MD practice in Raleigh.

“New technologies, tests, and medications enter the market on a regular basis,” she notes. “Frequent changes in insurance coverage are frustrating and demanding, both for patient and provider. Fluctuating deductibles; eligibility criteria; in or out of network; what’s covered and what isn’t; acceptable billing codes—all are uncertainties creating frustration and confusion, while stealing valuable time I would rather use providing high quality patient care rather than chasing paperwork.

“I came to the realization,” she says, “that, despite my efforts, the insurance-based model is simply not serving the needs of either patients or our practice. What we do as an integrative medicine practice goes well beyond the regular, run-of-the-mill approach. That standard, insurance-based model means 15-minute time slots for a physical exam, ordering routine lab work, throwing some medications at a problem, and sending patients on their way. That is not how we practice medicine—but that is what insurance pays for.”

Thus, Dr. Vaidya-Tank is making dramatic changes in both her practices “that will take control of patient care away from the insurance companies and put it back where it belongs—in the hands of the provider and the patient.”

Avance Care: Improved Family Practice

“Of great importance in the changes we are making,” she says, “is that the Family Wellness Clinics in Clayton is transitioning to an Avance Care management facility. We will practice in the same location, and I will continue to work in the Clayton facility two or three days a week. Partnering with Avance Care provides an infrastructure that brings with it systems and support that will benefit our patients. This partnership helps ensures we can continue to focus on the quality of patient care we deliver, because I will have much needed help with practice management.

“Another great benefit of this transition,” notes Dr. Vaidya-Tank, “is that moving to the Avance Care model means the Clayton office will now be open with longer hours—markedly improving accessibility and convenience for our patients. We will also have many additional resources on site, including pharmacy, X-ray, lab facilities, a nutritionist, and mental health counselor.

“And although we will still be accepting insurance at the Clayton office, the Avance Care model is a significant improvement over more conventional approaches. They are trying to change how medicine is practiced—by offering complementary services in house and increasing the amount of time available to patients. So I believe they will be an excellent complement to my own holistic approach.”

The Re-Birth of Regenesis MD

While the Clayton practice will be serving patients in this expanded way, Regenesis MD, Dr. Vaidya-Tank’s Raleigh practice, continues to develop. In the past, Regenesis MD focused primarily on anti-aging and cosmetic rejuvenation, in conjunction with Dr. Vaidya-Tank’s family practice. “Now,” she says “Regenesis MD will become the fully integrative practice I have always envisioned.

“The biggest change is the elimination of the constraints of the insurance-based model. Nonetheless, we’re able to offer our patients a very simple, cost-effective program, because we’re able to provide the quality of care our patients deserve in a simpler, more effective way—absent the involvement of insurance companies.

“I know some will wonder how we can be more cost-effective without taking insurance,” says Dr. Vaidya-Tank with a smile. “But the fact is that integrative medicine—the comprehensive, holistic, and effective medicine I practice—doesn’t fit the insurance-based model. In my practice, we do a lot of specialized care, such as hormone replacement, pellets, IV vitamin therapy, detox, and weight loss. These are therapies that aren’t covered by insurance anyway, unless a huge deductible had been met. And, in the past, we too often spent time filing claims we knew would be denied, frustrating our patients with bill after bill due to insurance denials. And, in the end, no one wins.”

Of note, she reports, covered laboratory work will still be processed through insurance, thanks to the partnership with Avance Care. And patients who need routine care can still go to the former Family Wellness Clinic, where all insurance will be filed.

Defining Integrative Medicine

“Integrative medicine is a complex way of looking at physical health that considers every body system and a multitude of contributing/causative factors, whereas traditional medicine only considers the presenting problem,” Dr. Vaidya-Tank explains.

“Let’s say we have a patient with high blood pressure, for example. A regular provider will say, ‘you have high blood pressure; here is a prescription for medication; come back in three months to review your symptoms.’ They will likely advise the patient to eat less salt, and if they’re really good, they may sit down for five minutes and talk about exercise and weight loss.

“With an integrative physician, the experience is much different. When a patient presents with high blood pressure, my approach is, first, to explain the patho-physiology of high blood pressure. Let’s look at your arterial compliance. Let’s look at your heart. Let’s run some tests to find out if you’re genetically predisposed to high blood pressure, or other conditions that are contributing factors. Once we have all this information, we can talk about what supplements might work best for you. We can make a real plan for weight loss, connect you with a health coach who will talk about your lifestyle and what will actually work for you to lose weight and improve your diet, in a manner that is sustainable.

“This is what integrative medicine is,” Dr. Vaidya-Tank continues. “High blood pressure is a symptom, and sure we can treat the symptom—which is really all insurance companies are interested in paying for. But I want to know the cause of the high blood pressure. Every symptom has a cause, and integrative medicine works to figure out how to treat that cause.
“Figuring out the root cause of a symptom can be a tall order, but with specialized testing looking at specific genes, small variations in hormone levels, antibodies and neurotransmitters, it is a task the integrative approach can certainly accomplish.”

A Case in Point

“A male patient in his 40s came in recently, having been diagnosed with anxiety and given a beta blocker. He said he hadn’t felt good in years. We started by checking his lab work, including testosterone and other hormones. In comparing the results with previous labs, his testosterone had always been borderline low—but he’d been told it was normal. He also tested positive for a gene called MTHFR, which meant he had a problem in how he metabolized folic acid. So, I put him on a supplement to balance his homocysteine levels, which in turn helped normalize the neuro-transmitters in his brain. Then, I put him on testosterone supplementation. And now he is a completely new person,” Dr. Vaidya-Tank reports with a smile. “He doesn’t need anything for anxiety and says he feels better than he has in years.

“But insurance doesn’t want to pay for any of that,” she remarks. “They would prefer to pay for the beta blocker for the rest of his life.

“Good medical care doesn’t have to be ultra-expensive,” she continues. “We are keeping it as simple as possible with these changes. Quality care will remain affordable, accessible, and reliable. We will be here to answer the phone when you call, and here when you need a prescription called in when you’re out of town. That’s concierge service. And because we are an integrative practice, we are actually healing the body here. This is the best care you will ever get; it really is.”