Article graphic: Palmetto Primary Care Physicians: Innovators in Health Care

Known for its unique beauty and history, South Carolina's Lowcountry is synonymous with majestic marshes, Southern cuisine and sandy beaches.

Over the past two decades, the Lowcountry has also become known for its progressive health care initiatives too. Palmetto Primary Care Physicians (PPCP) stands out as an early innovator of health care reform. PPCP was founded over 20 years ago by a group of doctors who saw the writing on the wall. Managed care and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), which began on the West Coast, were creeping eastward. Seven Lowcountry physicians were concerned that patient care would suffer if the influence of insurance companies and government controls on health care took over. With patient care as their utmost priority, they decided the only way to continue providing stellar, patient-based care was to remain independent from the local hospital systems. The three separate, but like-minded practices joined forces, and, in January 1996, Palmetto Primary Care Physicians was born.

Now, 22 years and 28 office locations later, PPCP remains true to its roots. The ideals and founding principles of the practice are led by independent physicians. The hands-on health care for which they have become well-known is driven by "what's in the best interest of the patient," stated Dr. Lucy Davis, a partner and physician within the multi-specialty group who practices on Daniel Island.

"Good, quality health care cannot be dictated by insurance reimbursements or hospital systems," Dr. Davis said.

Because they are free of the corporate red tape often present in hospital systems, PPCP has emerged as a leader among innovative medical practices. For example, they were one of the first physicians' groups in the country with a fully integrated electronic health record (EHR) system.

Additionally, PPCP was recognized as the first primary care practice in South Carolina to pilot a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), the purpose of which is to establish a central base, or "home," that coordinates all aspects of a patient's health care. Typically facilitated through the primary care doctor, one of the goals of a PCMH is to ensure patients receive every available health service they need, whether preventative, chronic or acute. Patient care coordinators serve as an extension of the physician, and, through constant contact with the patient, often recommend local resources that help keep patients healthy and active. Lifelong partnerships are formed between patients and their families and their physician, resulting in comprehensive, compassionate care.

PPCP offers a continuum of care, adding the invaluable aspect of convenience to their practice. In addition to 63 primary care physicians and advanced practitioners, the group has 11 specialists in a variety of fields, including endocrinology, gastroenterology, neurology, physical therapy and psychiatry. Over the years, the group has added MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds, X-rays and nuclear medicine to their list of services, providing quick, convenient access for their patients. An in-house lab also allows blood tests, urinalysis and other lab work to be performed pronto and results obtained without delay.

PPCP is now the largest independent physicians group in South Carolina. Despite this tremendous growth, PPCP remains independent and therefore able to address the needs of their patients first and foremost. They are an integrated group of health care providers succeeding in progressive, patient-centered medicine outside of the normal hospital-based systems.

"PPCP is an alliance of independent physicians whose interests lie in managing each individual patient's overall health care plan. Our independence allows for innovation and immediate responsiveness to our patients' needs," Dr. Davis concluded.

For more information about Palmetto Primary Care Physicians, visit www.palmettoprimarycare.com or call 843-572-7727.

By Mimi Wood

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