Hitchcock Family Medicine in Hixson puts the patient first with full range of offerings including pharmacy and imaging services

Photography by Olivia Ross / Dr. Matthew Hitchcock of Hitchcock Family Medicine.
Photography by Olivia Ross / Dr. Matthew Hitchcock of Hitchcock Family Medicine.

Dr. Matthew Hitchcock's take on the future of medicine has a decidedly retro foundation.

"I think we're going to go back to what insurance should be," says the doctor, who recently invested $3 million to relocate Hitchcock Family Medicine (HFM) to 5104 Hixson Pike.

Expanding to 11,000 square feet, Hitchcock's subscription-based, direct primary care practice will now have more than four times the space of its original location, also on Hixson Pike. The increased space will accommodate a doubled staff compared to the original offices.

"Over there, it was pretty much just me -- no extra services, no imaging, no lab. Just me," says Hitchcock, adding that the HFM office near Eastgate Town Center is unaffected and will continue serving patients.

The new location, Hitchcock says, will feature a new in-house pharmacy with pharmacist Robby Eskridge, along with a range of imaging equipment such as X-ray, ultrasound and CT machines. He's also adding space for Dr. Kathryn Dinh, an endocrinologist from River City Endocrinology, and physical therapist Monika Patel.

Hitchcock says his overarching aim is to make it easier for people to see a doctor for "routine" issues and reduce the role of traditional health insurance.

"Right now (health) insurance really isn't insurance," he says. "It's an awkward payment system.

"Think about your car insurance. You wouldn't use your insurance to get gas or buy tires. (Health) insurance is for when you get hit by a bus, or you're in the ICU -- not routine office visits, labs, meds or imaging."

Hitchcock says the fact that he can attend to those routine issues himself allows him to "cut out" insurance, letting his member patients "get out way cheaper."

"You cut out all the bureaucratic crap," he adds, "and you don't need that army of people in the back, driving up the cost."

He recalls a recent case, in which the child of an HFM member cut his head.

"It was about 7:30 on a Saturday night," Hitchcock says. "I met them (at the office) and stapled his head. Kept them out of the ER, and a bill of several thousand dollars, and it didn't cost them a dime out of pocket."

Hitchcock, who says HFM's $75 monthly membership fee hasn't changed in eight years, adds that having a high-deductible major medical insurance plan and a DPC membership is a "perfect pairing."

"The high-deductible (policy) covers the big stuff," he says, "and you have us to take care of all the other stuff for a known cost.

"DPC will never be a cash cow for anyone," he says. "For me, the appeal is that I get to practice the way I want to."

Hitchcock says that, working recently at HFM's Brainerd office, he caught a glimpse of what working in his new building could be.

"A mom brought her 2 1/2-year-old in with an ear infection," he says. "Robbie (Eskridge) filled out the meds, then sat there with the mom and talked with her about how to give those meds, what to watch out for, stuff like that.

"She was able to walk out with the meds, cheaper than she would have otherwise, and the whole thing was maybe 30 minutes, start to finish, and we got to do it all together," Hitchcock says. "And I'm watching this and thinking to myself, 'That's how this is supposed to work.' We can be that one-stop shop."


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