Dr. Constantine Vafidis is the owner of Primary Medical Center and Walk-in, LLC located at 684 Warren Avenue, East Providence, R.I. He is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Dr. Vafidis is also a member of American Academy of Physicians. Dr. Vafidis opened his Primary Care practice in 2014. Dr. Vafidis addresses what it takes to run your own business and speculates on the future of primary care. He and his business have been customers of Webster Bank since 2013.
How were you able to make a successful transition into owning your own Primary Care Practice?
I have always wanted to build my dream primary care practice. I was blessed to have the support of my family and friends. Through Dev Singh, Webster’s Providence-based specialty Business Banker, I learned about the products and services Webster offers that could help me with the start-up of my practice and acquisition of my building. Dev clearly understood my professional background and long term goals. He and the rest of his team were able to come up with a customized financial solution that was critical to owning and operating my own practice. Everyone at the bank treated me with exceptional client service and made me feel like a valued business partner.
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What are the key success factors driving your industry?
I believe the most important factors for a successful medical practice are:
- Access to a highly skilled work force. In order to deliver superior patient care, we need to attract and retain quality medical, nursing and administrative staff.
- A loyal patient base and proximity to key markets.
- Understanding government policies and their implications.
- Accreditation and recommendations.
- Developing relationships in local communities.
How has technology affected the practice of medicine?
The proliferation of technology has affected the role of primary care physicians in various ways. This affects the role of physician two ways: the need to manage and coordinate the technology and the cost associated with it. I believe advances in technology have given physicians more and more information about patients, thereby helping to reduce medical errors. For example, claims to payers made electronically can speed up payments, reduce administrative costs, reduce bad debts and improve cash flow.
The question as to whether the shortage of primary care is expected to worsen under medical coverage expansion has generated lot of debate in the press and on the platform. How do you see that issue?
I believe it depends on the model of primary care. The implementation of the healthcare reform of 2010 has increased the number of individuals entitled to healthcare and heightened demand, thereby exacerbating the shortage of physicians. Primary care doctors often serve as the first point of contact for individuals seeking healthcare. A large number of primary care visits are routine physical exams and screenings/visits for hypertension, diabetes and upper respiratory infections, and metabolic syndrome (cholesterol, blood pressure, weight problems). Many in the profession believe that a lot of these things can be treated by a nurse practitioner (NP) instead of a physician.
On the flip side, primary care doctors are better equipped for making complex diagnoses and managing patients who have multiple conditions and medications. In my opinion, primary care doctors should be spending time with the complex patients and situations that can’t be managed. So the answer to the question depends on what roles physicians, NP’s, physician’s assistants and specialists will end up playing.