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Gulf & Main Magazine

Front Lines to Medicine’s New Frontiers

Chief medical information officer Dr. David McAtee, innovation officer Jeffrey Nelson and chief medical officer Dr. Alejandro Perez-Trepichio of Millennium Physician Group, which was named Healthcare Innovator of the Year in 2019 by Healthcare Innovation, a health care media company.

Talk about the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and your primary care provider’s office might not be the first place that comes to mind. But that is, in fact, where health officials urged concerned Floridians to turn for proper screening, assessment and guidance on the novel coronavirus.

“And this makes sense,” says Millennium Physician Group’s chief medical officer, Dr. Alejandro Perez-Trepichio. “Who better to assess patients than their primary care provider, considering their knowledge and understanding of each patient’s individual factors—like medical history, chronic conditions and current medications? I know my patients’ risk factors and I can tell, in many cases, by looking at them in a holistic way how they are faring.”

Chief medical officer Dr. Alejandro Perez-Trepichio

The acute-care hospitals saw and treated many severe COVID-19 cases, but it is the role of primary care providers to intervene and guide their patients, especially when uncertainty bounds—such as during a pandemic. That is why Millennium’s 100-plus locations across the state remained open. “Our first duty is to our patients,” adds Perez-Trepichio.

Health officials also recognized the value and importance of lowering the barriers for the medical community to employ telehealth as a tool to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Millennium again responded.

Chief medical information officer Dr. David McAtee

“We had been developing our own fully-integrated telehealth approach since last year and had been piloting it with a handful of our physicians,” says Millennium’s chief medical information officer, Dr. David McAtee. “But with the swift arrival of COVID-19, it became imperative that we adopt this technology enterprise-wide, and our 500-plus health care providers were up to the challenge.”

In the last weeks of March and during much of the governor- issued “safer-at-home order,” more than half of Millennium’s patient visits were being conducted through its telehealth platform “MPG Connect.” Heading into June, about a third of visits were consistently taking place through the platform, with the total number of visits conducted through “MPG Connect” topping 50,000.

“What’s exceptional about our telehealth service is that it connects our 450,000 patients with their health care provider, which is a departure from many third-party telehealth services whose providers don’t know the patients nor have their medical records on hand,” adds McAtee. “This allows us to provide meaningful health care that truly honors the continuity of the patient’s care.”

Dr. John Diaz, with the Millennium Physician Group in Naples

Millennium’s Naples, Florida-based Dr. John Diaz is taking tele- health one step further by integrating it with a home-monitoring device about the size of a cell phone. “For one patient showing symptoms of COVID-19, I was able to listen to her lungs and mon- itor her health safely while she stayed at home,” says Diaz. That patient has recovered and is grateful for such innovative care.

Telehealth services include new patient visits, follow-up visits, COVID-19 screenings and wellness check-ups. “Each and every one of our 3,000 team members mobilized at every level of the organization in response to the threat of COVID-19,” says Perez-Trepichio. “I think in the end, our relationship with our patients will be even stronger through this team approach.”

Dr. Rick Waks in his Fort Myers office on an MPG Connect telehealth call

Millennium Physician Group can be contacted at millennium or bycalling 844-CALL-MPG (844-225-5674).