by Jonathan Weaver
Homer Schreckengost wants patients to feel at home when they visit him at his doctor’s office.
Schreckengost not only works out of his East Franklin Township home basement, but offers personalized health care through a new technique called “concierge medicine.” He can perform many treatments, offers weekend and evening appointments and even makes house calls to make sure patients deserve personal attention.
Schreckengost, 35, said he enjoys knowing patients by name.
“I envisioned going to medical school and being a country doc and knowing my patients, so if I pass Mr. Smith on the street, I’d be able to say hello, and in a practice of 5,000 active charts and seeing 70 people a day, I couldn’t even tell you what I was doing at the end of the day, let alone knowing my patient’s names.”
“This way, I know everyone really well,” Schreckengost said. “It truly is being a personalized physican.”
Schreckengost began practicing out of his home in January, but didn’t always. In 2004, he worked as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at Clarion Hospital and in New Bethlehem with a full caseload and a long work week, but felt the personalized attention was lost in the cycle.
“That’s what I always dreamed of – having this big booming practice. But, then I thought, maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be,” Schreckengost said.
He hopes to eventually treat 400-500 patients.
Not only does Schreckengost work under a different system of care, he works under a different system of payment. An adult patient pays $100 per month – no insurance needed – for up to ten visits or treatments a month. Many specialist-needed treatments are also available, including blood draws, laceration repairs and intravenous fluids.
Child patients are also accepted.
Schreckengost said concierge medicine will someday be the norm around town.
“It’s definitely going to be the future of medicine – rurally speaking, we are way ahead of the concept,” Schreckengost said.
The pay structure allows Schreckengost to treat low, moderate and high income patients at their convenience – including same- or next-day visits – whether that is during office hours or during the middle of the night. He will also accompany patients to specialist appointments if they are necessary.
That commitment surprised some patients and Schreckengost said he feels appreciated.
“The respect from the patient-side has been unbelievable,” Schreckengost said. “I have been very impressed – people really do respect my time.”
Schreckengost and his wife, Kelly, moved back to Speedmont Farm in 2006 and, not only made it home, but the doctor’s office. He said it has made him adjust time with his family slightly, but because of being used to a hospital shift anyway, he isn’t stressed.
After moving back to the farm, Schreckengost joined Butler Hospital and asked for their input on the revolutionary method. He admits the change initially scared him.
“This is probably the biggest leap I had to ever make in my profession,” Schreckengost said.
Schreckengost said his faith helped him make that leap.
“I feel that’s the basis of why I started my practice because it was all about practicing medicine the way God would want me to practice it – not just going to work everyday and filing through a bunch of people,” Schreckengost said. “For me, it was about doing my job the way He would expect me to do it, and in traditional practice, that’s very hard.”
An American Association of Private Physicans member, Schreckengost modeled his practice off a Philadelphia practice, Revolutionary Health Services, led by Dr. Charles Whitney.
Schreckengost also offered four public information sessions last fall to explain “concierge medicine” and answer questions.
Because of his work with the Amish community, Schreckengost offers herbal and supplemental care to treat patients naturally.
Schreckengost graduated in 2001 from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.