Marathon Health’s Day in the Life series spotlights the role different care providers play in improving employee health at the worksite, at a nearby Network health center or virtually. In this blog, we spoke to Dr. Levi Rizk about being a virtual care doctor for employees across the U.S. and how he provides quality primary care through Marathon Health’s Anywhere offering.
Similar to most industries, the pandemic disrupted the way patients seek health and wellness services. In April, market research firm Parks Associates found 64 percent of U.S. broadband households reported using a telehealth service in the previous 12 months.
While many of these appointments were likely born out of necessity, it turns out patients enjoy the virtual experience. In fact, a Cleveland Clinic study found 82% of patients rated virtual visits as comparable to traditional in-person visits, and over 90% of respondents said their virtual visit made it easy to obtain needed care.
Dr. Levi Rizk is a physician on the Marathon Health Anywhere team, a fully virtual offering that provides comprehensive primary care, health coaching, behavioral health support and other health services. Anywhere providers are certified in all 50 states and currently serve multiple Marathon Health clients. Dr. Rizk’s patients include Marathon Health members spanning multiple industries, from finance and manufacturing to transportation and municipalities.
“My patients are located all across the country, so I meet people where they are,” Dr. Rizk says. “Sometimes, it’s in their homes, and sometimes they’re at work or on their break. I’m able to connect with them right away.”
Dr. Rizk stresses Marathon Health Anywhere goes far beyond traditional telehealth. It’s not just for sick visits or urgent care; patients receive the same level of care as they would at an onsite or Network health center.
“I see a mixture of all kinds of different visits,” Dr. Rizk says. “It can range from taking care of someone with a sinus infection, discussing depression and having them meet with one of our counselors, or doing a comprehensive health review and health coaching. I do all kinds of screenings, whether it’s vaccinations, cancer screenings, cardiovascular screenings and so forth. We also do a lot of care coordination.”
Some patients utilize Marathon Health’s virtual care exclusively, while others use it as a hybrid model to work in tandem with an existing provider.
“They’ll have their in-person primary care office they go to, and sometimes they rely on us to help coordinate care or maybe to fill in gaps for things they’re not able to obtain at their brick-and-mortar facility. Sometimes they’re looking for a second opinion,” Dr. Rizk says.
While remote care exploded during the pandemic, Dr. Rizk says patients continue to engage with virtual service for a variety of benefits.
“People want something that’s convenient. With Anywhere, they don’t have to go through the hassle of driving and waiting,” Dr. Rizk says. “Sometimes you can drive to a visit and realize, maybe, you didn’t necessarily need to go or spend all that time. Sometimes you can accomplish the same in very little time. Time is a big commodity that we can’t replace.”
Virtual Care Doctors Build Deep Patient-Provider Relationships
The Marathon Health care model focuses on building long-term, patient-provider relationships. Even though the appointment takes place on a phone or computer screen, Dr. Rizk says Anywhere providers form meaningful relationships.
“It’s nice to be invited into their home and get a sense of where they are, get a sense of what kind of distractions they might have going on,” Dr. Rizk says. “Sometimes I might meet their pets or their children. Recognizing where they are and what they’re looking for is really important to establish trust from the beginning, so I can allow them the opportunity to use this platform to the best of its potential.”
Marathon Health’s electronic medical record system automatically defaults to the same virtual provider, so regardless if a patient calls to make an appointment or self-schedules through the Patient Portal, they always have the option to see the same provider and pick up right where they left off at the previous visit.
“Continuity of care is one of the big advantages to having primary care and having a close, multidisciplinary team,” Dr. Rizk says.
Technology Powers Real-time Monitoring for Virtual Care Patients
The Marathon Health Anywhere team consists of physicians, RN health coaches, concierge care coordinators and other specialists who work together to treat the whole patient. To help patients manage chronic conditions virtually, the Anywhere team uses technology to monitor results in real-time.
“I use Remote Patient Monitoring tools, where I can send our members Bluetooth-enabled glucometers, blood pressure cuffs and scales,” Dr. Rizk says. “For example, if a patient has a new onset diagnosis of hypertension, I can send them a blood pressure cuff so when they take their blood pressure, it automatically goes through the system and comes to me.
“And that allows for accountability and consistent feedback,” he adds. “The more I can engage early on, the more I can recognize what to do and be more responsive, as opposed to the traditional model where you might go four weeks and then show up to the doctor’s office with a log of your numbers and try to get some feedback in 20 seconds about what you should be doing.”
Virtual Healthcare Doctor Focuses on Educating Patients
While virtual care is a convenience for many, it provides a critical lifeline to high-quality primary care for patients who can’t physically travel to an appointment or face other barriers.
“I focus on social determinants of health. So, what else could be getting in the way of primary care for my patient?” Dr. Rizk says. “Often, it’s not just education or sharing knowledge or access — there are other factors. I’m able to find resources to allow the individual to be more engaged in their healthcare journey.”
Virtual care also enables the patient to include others in the visit to offer support, or in some cases provide key information to inform the visit. With permission, friends, family members, or other healthcare providers can join the virtual visit, from anywhere.
“It could be a parent who takes their child to the doctor’s office, but the other parent is more aware of the symptoms. So, rather than calling and putting them on speaker phone, I can invite them to join the room from their worksite or wherever they are,” Dr. Rizk says.
Ultimately, Dr. Rizk says his favorite part of practicing primary care virtually is it allows him to experience a far wider range of people and cultures versus working in a physical office.
“There’s never a one-size-fits-all in our approach to medicine, and it becomes much more pronounced as you get to serve others in many different states,” Dr. Rizk says. “Our members often work for the same employer but span a variety of states. This allows for a very fun and rewarding experience.”