I’ve been an executive in the healthcare industry for over 30 years. I had great doctors and thought I was getting great care. I have a family history of heart disease, losing both my father and younger brother to the disease. One of my doctors told me that the reason they had heart disease was because they smoked. It’s been over 40 years since I touched a cigarette so my doctor at Mayo told me I was not at risk due to heredity since I was a non-smoker. That was further reinforced by an angiogram about fifteen years ago as a result of a “bad stress-test,” which turned out to be a false positive, leading me to believe that I had no signs of cardiovascular disease.

My Primary Care Experiences I had a great primary care doctor when I lived in Milwaukee. He was conservative in his treatment and followed through in a timely matter. I had developed Type II diabetes, which he got under control, but he never told me that I had the start of any type of cardiovascular disease. Maybe because he saw me every three months, he was monitoring me and felt that I didn’t need to know.

When I moved to AZ, I started commuting back to Wisconsin. I’m sad to say, I no longer made time to exercise, eat right or see a doctor. It took almost four years for me to finally see a doctor in AZ and I was referred by a friend to a family doctor at Mayo. I made sure that all my records were sent to him, but guess what, I recently found out that no one looked at them! If they had, I wouldn’t be telling this story today. After two years with my Mayo doctor, I was informed in writing that my doctor was leaving and if I needed to see a doctor, they would fit me in with someone, but had no one that could take over at that time. I need to see a primary care physician regularly for refilling my scripts and monitoring. Not having one doctor to go to was very troublesome to me, and I needed to make a change.

Concierge Doctors – The Bad Experience Being frustrated by my Mayo experiences, and having knowledge of the concierge physician concept, I found a national organization that promised me online records, doctors in Milwaukee and the Phoenix area, an annual physical and 24/7 access to my doctor. It sounded great and would solve my physician access issues. I interviewed my new doctor in Phoenix, and even though his office was not very close to where I lived, I felt it was worth the drive to have “my” doctor. Things went fairly well for about 4 months, and then I received a letter informing me he was leaving and I would be “assigned” to a new doctor very soon. Two months later I was introduced to my new doctor who was at the same old “long-distance” location. We met and I felt initially comfortable with him; then my troubles began. He would not return calls to my pharmacy, he would tell me his nurse would call me to set-up an appointment - and never did, and sometimes it would take over a week to get in. Oh, and I should add with both of these concierge doctors, no mention of cardiovascular disease.

So Why does this matter... There is a rapidly looming consumer crisis in getting access to primary care doctors. You do the math. Baby boomers represent a high percentage of the population. As you age, your consumption of medical services increases. Most patients select doctors within 10 years of their age. Those doctors that are baby-boomers are also retiring. Now lets add into the equation two additional factors. Because of the recently passed healthcare reform bill, almost 40 million more people will have the ability to access primary care physicians. Today the estimated shortage of primary care physicians is around 17,000, that is being further impacted by new doctors choosing to practice specialties and not going into primary care. What all this means is less time with your doctor, longer waits to get in, and an extremely difficult time to get to talk to them.

The Good Concierge Experience that Saved My Life... Being extremely frustrated, I contacted the national concierge physician organization, to express my frustration, and, quite frankly, to demanded my money back. They convinced me to interview Dr. Carrie Bordinko and guaranteed me that my experience would be vastly different. I met with Carrie for almost 2 hours. She gave me all of her contact information, told me she would review my past medical records, and meet as often as each week if necessary to determine strategies that were geared to my medical conditions. The level of service and attention I got from her far exceeded my expectations and was as positive as my other experiences were negative. Plus her office, was my house - how convenient!

About a month ago, I got a call from Carrie, who was going through my medical records from WI, and saw a reference to cardiovascular disease, which was a surprise to me. This information was available to my Mayo doctor, and my two concierge doctors, but obviously Carrie was the only one to take the time to read my records. She immediately ordered a heart scan for me that week. Based on the results, which were off the charts, she made an immediate appointment with a Cardiologist, Dr. Loli. They both determined that I needed an angiogram ASAP. I should add that I was feeling great, had no symptoms and was convinced that nothing was wrong. By the end of the week, I went in for open-heart surgery due to 90% blockage of my artery! But now, I’m thrilled to say, I’m rapidly recovering and back to my “new” normal life. Carrie and I communicate daily after my surgery. She is truly my advocate, checking my vitals and medication levels daily. Both Carrie and Dr. Loli told me that I was potentially 3-18 months away from a major coronary event, and because of my main artery being blocked, it most likely would have been fatal. Carrie Bordinko saved my life!

There’s No Cost When You Prioritize What’s More Important. The first thing my friends ask me when I talk about MY doctor is “what’s the cost?” I usually respond by asking if they mean “the cost of doing it or not doing it?” In my case, the cost for NOT doing it was my life. The cost for doing it, after subtracting what I spend over the course of the year for traditional primary care mis-treatment is the cost of a good meal or two at a restaurant, or a couple bottles of great wine. The result I hope is many more years of living healthy, and if I’m real lucky, with Carrie’s assistance, being healthy until the day I die.