Game Changer: Local Doctor Breaks Down Health Care Walls, Empowers Patients

Game Changer: Local Doctor Breaks Down Health Care Walls, Empowers Patients

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It’s Saturday afternoon and Dr. Jennifer Bontreger is answering a text message from a patient. Keep in mind, this particular text does not involve a life-threatening emergency, but Bontreger doesn’t take any patient issue lightly. And giving out her personal cell phone number is just the beginning.

“I want to give my patients a feel for how the medical field should be,” said Bontreger, who is the sole practitioner at Southern Horizon Healthcare in Highland Village and considers herself perpetually on-call for her patients. “Rushing through a thousand patients doesn’t help people. I want to spend time with them, and give them access to me any time they need me.”
A passionate doctor who is personally on-call 24-7? It seems too good to be true, but Dr. Bontreger – board certified in both internal medicine and primary care sports medicine – has the experience necessary to provide top-flight care while also creating a highly-personalized approach to practicing medicine.
Because of that, her patients swear by her. Dr. Bontreger insists she hasn’t re-invented the wheel when it comes to responsible healthcare, but she continues to break down walls while empowering patients.
The biggest way she is doing that is by offering medical membership plans. Instead of working through the traditional insurance process – which can be costly and time consuming for both the patient and doctor – patients have the option to instead pay a monthly fee based on predetermined age ranges, plus a $10 per visit charge, to Southern Horizon and receive access to all of Bontreger’s services at a reduced cost.
With the cost of healthcare skyrocketing, Bontreger’s plan is a game changer for patients who either have no insurance or are suffering the brunt of high deductibles and co-pays. In a traditional setting, patients can either be refused services or spend thousands of dollars per year for crucial medical needs without ever coming close to satisfying their deductible – some of which exceed $5,000.
Take for example a 39-year-old patient with severe food poisoning. Under Bontreger’s membership plan, the patient could get fluids from an IV and anti-nausea medication for $40. Additional lab and blood work would cost around $36. Even with a monthly fee of $50 and visit charge, the total cost for services is $136.
Had that same patient gone to an emergency room, not only would most of that time likely be spent with a nurse, but that co-pay could balloon to $500. And that doesn’t include additional costs for treatment.
All told, the bill for an ER visit could easily reach $2,000, Dr. Bontreger said. There are physicians who offer similar plans to what Bontreger does, but none are in Denton County.
“Think of this like a gym membership,” Dr. Bontreger said. “At a gym, you can join for a year and come in any time you want for a monthly fee. Most of what the gym offers is part of the membership, but if you want to use a personal trainer or take a class, you pay a little extra. At the end of the year, the patient’s out of pocket cost is vastly lower in comparison to having to meet a deductible first. The patients don’t have to deal with the insurance, I can control the prices, and they have access to me 24-7.
“I always advocate keeping your existing insurance because you never know when a serious emergency may arise. At my office, though, my goal is to empower patients. I don’t have insurance companies telling me what to do. This allows me to schedule more face-to-face time with my patients.”
And they are getting one heck of a doctor, too.
Prior to establishing Southern Horizon Healthcare, Bontreger served as medical director at Concentra in Las Colinas, and acted as interim director at an urgent care facility on the East Coast. She has been published in various medical journals and also is one of a handful of concussion/impact-certified physicians in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She currently serves as one of Lewisville High School’s athletic team physicians.
At Southern Horizon, Bontreger has created a one-stop experience for medical needs ranging from wellness exams to ultrasounds, concussion baseline testing, and wound care. She has developed relationships with outside imaging centers and other medical facilities to create a turnkey product for her patients.
Dawn Sprayman is a longtime patient and advocate of Dr. Bontreger and Southern Horizon Healthcare.
“In so many ways, Bontreger is a throwback to how the medical field used to be,” Sprayman said.
The offices were smaller, so the doctor could spend more time with their patients. They knew every bit of medical history, and had the knowledge to take care of the entire family. Nowadays, doctors are overloaded with patients and spend more time working with insurance companies than helping patients.
Nurses and physician assistants are brought in to handle patient loads, and if a patient has an issue over the weekend, they are forced to go to an urgent care or ER.
“She does what a doctor is supposed to do,” Sprayman said. “She knows your medical history, and she’s very interested in taking care of your whole health. She spends time with you and that is huge. She is the one who follows up with you. It’s never someone else. I feel like I have a doctor, and that’s a big deal.”
For Bontreger, it’s all in a day’s work – or a night’s work, depending on when her patients need her most.

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 1.34.49 PMBy: Steve Gamel


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