If patients getting a checkup at Dr. Donald Stewart's clinic in Sammamish feel at ease — like they're visiting the family doc at his home — it's because they are.
On July 28, Stewart began his new life as a downsized solo physician, chucking his previous career running a group clinic.
With high-tech help and by cutting his overhead — such as buying furniture on Craigslist.org — he now can work out of what used to be the mother-in-law apartment in the basement of his home.
"It's the most fun I've had since I started in medicine 25 years ago," said Stewart, who is 57. "Now, I'm having enough time with patients so I can enjoy working with them."
Stewart is part of a small, but growing, trend among family-practice physicians.
They're going it alone.
OK, going solo as a micropractice is not painless but it is very, very fun.
At her Bellevue clinic, Dr. Gwen Hanson also is not accepting new patients. She went solo in December 2004.
Her goal is to let patients make same-day appointments, Hanson said. If patients have to wait more than 15 minutes after arriving, she gives them a $5 Starbucks gift card. If they bicycle or walk to her office, they also get a gift card.
It's not the $5 that matters, Hanson said, it's that patients know she appreciates them.
She has 400 to 600 patients, Hanson said. She works two full days and three half-days. She takes seven weeks of vacation a year. She can spend time with her husband and three teenage daughters.
Hanson said her overhead is around $1,800 a month, which includes office rental and malpractice insurance. After those expenses, her before-taxes annual income is $110,000.
Drs. Stewart and Hanson are both on the IMP Map.
Hmm, 3rd article about micropractices in the past week. Okay, I think this is a genuine trend now.