New family health practice to offer ‘overall healing experience’

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Dr. David Baron plans to open a new family practice in Malibu.

Frustrated by HMOs and paperwork that took time away from care of patients, a local doctor decides to open his own practice in Malibu.

By Mark Bassett/Special to The Malibu Times

As a longtime member of UCLA’s Westside Primary Care Network, Dr. David Baron has seen firsthand the results of overt industrialization in modern medical practices. Because of this, Baron said he decided to break free from the system and open a true family practice in Malibu.

Primary Caring of Malibu is designed to create more time for the doctor-patient relationship, which he calls the key element in treating the person, not just the patient.

“My goal is to bring the human connection back to medicine,” Baron said. “And provide the type of doctor-patient relationship that has been missing in healthcare since the advent of HMOs.”

As the amount of paperwork at UCLA was becoming more complicated than the most sophisticated medical procedure, Baron saw a general discontent among patients, leading to a disconnect and affecting his ability to treat people effectively.

“When I practiced with Scott Bateman here in Malibu before joining UCLA, I was seeing around 15 patients a day,” Baron said. “At UCLA, there was pressure to see 35 patients a day.”

In true Jerry McGuire style, Baron consulted a career counselor and wrote a mission statement that detailed his strategy for bringing home-style medicine with all the modern advents to Malibu. The new state-of-the-art facility is located above PC Greens on Pacific Coast Highway and, Baron said, will feature a healing environment designed to support compassion, caring and a commitment to patients.

Baron graduated from Amherst in Massachusetts with a liberal arts education and a major in music. He went on to University of Pennsylvania where he graduated in the medical honors society, then decided to focus on family medicine during his residency, explaining that his talent was communication and helping patients through difficult times. Today, Baron, in addition to practicing medicine, plays the keyboard in two rock bands.

Baron said his cathartic moment arrived late last year just as the UCLA Primary Care Network started bleeding red ink, and one of the doctors in his office left the practice. The UCLA Primary Care Network wouldn’t replace her due to financial constraints. Staying with the network would’ve required attending to an even larger caseload.

Baron said he is not alone-there are 8 to 10 doctors left in a network that initially supported 50 to 60. Baron said he faults the system, not the institution, and as a result his new family practice will not take insurance or be supported by HMOs. He said he plans to limit his practice to 300 patients to provide more time, better access and personalized attention to individual healthcare needs.

“Patients will pay a reasonable fee for service, and then we will help them ask for reimbursement from their insurance company,” Baron said.

Baron said it might be more expensive at first for patients, but that overall they would be better served.

A member of the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Saint John’s Health Center, Baron said he will offer comprehensive annual physicals for all adults and children. Therapeutic massages also will be available onsite. Travel medicine services will also be offered, including emergency coordination of care in the event of illness or accident. He said he also plans to carefully select physicians and practitioners in cardiology, gynecology, head and neck surgery, podiatry, psychology, chiropractic care, acupuncture/Eastern medicine, and lease them office space to make it more convenient for patients when they need or request referrals.

Baron, who plans to open Primary Care of Malibu in July, has paid careful attention not only to how he will run his practice, but also the design of the offices.

“We paid meticulous attention to every detail of the design,” explained Baron, who worked with his fiancĂ©e, Emily Hodgins, and internationally recognized architect/designer John Sergio Fisher to create the new office. “Every decision was made with the vision of creating an overall healing experience.”