Q&A with Carolyn Le

The provider with Direct Primary Care answers employee questions about the pilot benefit.

Published in Dome - September/October 2018 Dome

This month, Johns Hopkins Health System employees are choosing health care coverage for calendar year 2019. A new benefit is Direct Primary Care, a pilot practice that offers 24/7 access to select adult primary care services. Participants will also experience no copayments for the first eight visits with a Direct Primary Care provider in calendar year 2019.

“Direct Primary Care provides comprehensive and inclusive services, and that changes the dynamic of how health care is being delivered to the patient,” says Steve Kravet, president of Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, the organization responsible for Direct Primary Care. “The goal is to create a very close relationship between the providers and the patients, making the care experience feel more intimate.”

It’s this patient-centered approach that inspired Carolyn Le, a certified registered nurse practitioner, to leave her current practice and become a provider with Direct Primary Care. Le says she became a nurse practitioner so that she could work more closely with patients on diagnosing illnesses and developing treatment plans, and engaging them in their own care. She is excited about Direct Primary Care because having fewer patients will allow her more time to focus on individuals’ care.

Dome sat down with Le to learn more about the care that enrollees can expect to receive through the Direct Primary Care benefit. 

1. What are some of the services that you provide during these visits?

Sick visits, follow-ups, preventive health care, your annual physical, routine Pap smears. A comprehensive list is available at jhcp.org/DPC.

2. What is the difference between Direct Primary Care and urgent care?

With urgent care, you probably see someone you’ve never met before. As your Direct Primary Care provider, we know you. We’ve had opportunities to talk in depth about your concerns and things that can contribute to or exacerbate those concerns. We can better address whatever is going on because we have that history and that relationship, and we can continue to monitor and manage your care.   

3. I see that I can receive eight free visits. What counts as a visit? What happens when I reach my limit?

The Direct Primary Care practice considers an office visit or a video visit as one visit. After you reach your limit, each additional visit is covered by your Employer Health Program (EHP) insurance plan with your regular copayments.

4. If I also sign up my spouse and adult child, do we have to split the eight free visits between us?

You get eight visits, so does your spouse and so do adult children who are age 18 years or older.

5. Are there any age restrictions associated with Direct Primary Care?

You must be at least 18 to participate. As long as you are an EHP holder, there are no upward age limits. I’ve seen patients aged 18 to 100!

6. How do I get coverage for my younger children?

Your regular EHP insurance covers any child under the age of 18. You can still bring your kids to the pediatrician, same as you do now. 

7. Do I use Direct Primary Care to help manage my diabetes, or do I still see my specialist?

We can work closely with your specialist. I get alerts whenever you’ve seen a specialist [within Johns Hopkins]. After reviewing the notes, I often reach out to the patient and say, “Maybe we should touch base, talk about what happened in the specialist visit and make sure we are all on the same page.” In Direct Primary Care, we tie everything back together and make sure that we have the big picture. 

8. Can your patients really call you in the middle of the night and on weekends?

Yes, absolutely. If you call us after hours, you’ll get our after-hours service. The triage nurse will contact us to determine whether we need to call you back immediately, or schedule an appointment for the next day. You can be sure that someone from our practice will get back to you. In the rare instance that both Norman Dy, my colleague in the Direct Primary Care practice, and I are unavailable for an urgent concern, the call may be routed to another Johns Hopkins Community Physician on-call provider. Dr. Dy and I will follow up with you to understand your concerns as soon as we are able.

​9. ​What do I need for a video visit?

For a video visit, you need to have the MyChart website open on your computer or the app on your smartphone. You also need to be in the state of Maryland during the visit. Our staff will walk you through how to set everything up.

10. Can I text you with my questions? What about email?

Yes. If you would like to use texting as a method for communication, just let me know during our first visit. I’ll just need to review with you that texting is not a secure communication channel. I also recommend MyChart as a great way to send messages to me directly. You can also use MyChart to schedule your follow-up appointments with me after our initial visit, as well as view your notes and your lab results.