Iora health clinics focus on cutting wait times
There is free coffee in the reception area of Iora Health's new medical practice in Hyde Park. There are cushioned chairs, and a fireplace. Big windows let the sunlight in.
"We really want this to be warm and inviting," said Dr. Nancy Cibotti, a medical director at Iora.
But as inviting as this space may be, the goal at Iora is to make sure that patients don't spend time waiting. Everything about the office is designed to make the health care experience comfortable for patients. That means no long waits.
It also means that when Rosetta Walker came for a checkup on a recent afternoon, she spent most of her appointment in her jeans and top — not in a hospital johnny — and sat in a chair, not on an examination table. Her doctor was in a chair beside her.
Walker, 68, told Dr. Ravi Kavasery about her chronic back pain.
"I have my good days and I have my bad days," she said. "Sometimes I can't even open a bottle of water because of the pain."
Walker teared up as she recalled bad experiences with past doctors.
"I want somebody to get to know me," she said.
Kavasery typed some notes as she spoke, but maintained eye contact with her. He told her he wanted to do a quick exam, then discuss strategies to manage her pain.
To encourage such face-to-face conversations, Iora has placed tables and chairs in every exam room. And several rooms have no exam table or medical equipment at all — just tables and chairs. The simple setup makes Iora's medical offices different than most.
Executives at Iora, a private for-profit company based in Boston, say their goal is make medicine more personal and more comfortable for patients. Appointments can run as long as an hour. Patients spend time not just with doctors, but with health coaches and other health care workers who help them manage chronic diseases and other problems.
The Hyde Park clinic, which opened in October, is one of three operated by Iora in Massachusetts, and among 29 nationwide. It is specifically for seniors who have a Medicare plan from Watertown-based Tufts Health Plan.
Walker, a new patient at Iora, was pleased with the setup at the clinic.
"It makes you feel welcome," she said.
PRIYANKA DAYAL MCCLUSKEY