Community Spotlight - A Caring Approach to Health Care
Jun 30, 2014 09:04PM
Chris Larson had been working as an investment banker for a couple of years when he decided to become a doctor. Having observed the poor level of treatment his loved ones were receiving, and believing that there was a better way to help people, he left his finance career behind and enrolled in medical school.
“The doctors that were treating my loved ones are not bad doctors. I think it’s the system that’s bad,” Larson explains. “A lot of family physicians would love to spend 30 minutes to an hour with their patients and discuss lifestyle changes, but their clinics take insurance, and if you take insurance, from a financial standpoint, you cannot do that.”
In January, he opened his own practice, Austin Osteopathic Family Medicine. For an affordable monthly fee, his patients receive primary medical care that includes a yearly physical, routine lab work, an unhurried consultation and treatment with Larson, as well as same-day or next-day follow-up appointments. While additional fees may apply, the payment structure is designed to be affordable and easy to understand. Larson does not accept insurance, although insured patients can submit his bill to their insurers for outof- network consideration.
“If you want to do the things that I want to do—spend time with my patients and truly affect their health by affecting their lives—I have to choose this path, where you don’t accept insurance,” Larson explains. “I make it affordable. There are concierge doctors that people pay $2,000, $5,000, $6,000 dollars a year, but that’s not the type of person that I want to treat. I want to treat the average, everyday person.”
As an osteopathic doctor, Larson offers a holistic approach to medicine. He would rather try lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, nutritional supplements and osteopathic treatments before moving on to riskier options like pharmaceuticals or surgery. Although some may categorize his style of practice as integrative or alternative, he prefers to call it “rational medicine”. If these safer methods don’t work, Larson is more than willing to try pharmaceuticals when the reward is worth the risk.
Osteopathic treatment may be helpful if an anatomical issue is causing a patient’s symptoms. It can alleviate neck or back pain, as well as acid reflux and urinary tract infections, for example, all of which have anatomical components. The treatment itself involves gentle manipulation of the body. Larson treats the whole body, focusing on affected areas, where he applies pressure until he feels a release.
There is an art to osteopathy, which only comes with experience and the right training. “The osteopaths that I’ve worked with have influenced me the most and been most helpful. They’ve been very nice to give their time, especially in clinics, and share their expertise with myself and other students. That’s a very different teaching process than just telling someone to read an explanation about how a pill works,” Larson says.
Larson is enthusiastic about his new practice and the easy, affordable payment structure that he is developing. “I believe that this is a benefit to patients and to doctors,” he says. “I know so many family physicians that don’t like going to work, for the same reason that I wouldn’t want to work there. They don’t know their patients. It’s not because they don’t want to, it’s because of the system that they’re in and so, if because of my training in finance and my comfort with business, I can open a few more of these practices and introduce other doctors and patients to what family care should be like, I’d be very happy to do that.”
Location: 711 W. 38 St., Ste. D1, Austin. For more information, call 512-887-3955 or visit AustinOFM.com.