Early 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, I founded Rheumatologist OnCall to give patients easier and faster access to specialized care.
Did you know that in the United States, the typical waiting time for a rheumatology consultation can be between 3 to 6 months?
Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or inflammatory arthritis can be very stressful and can lead to permanent organ damage so time is the essence.
WHY WAIT? YOUR LIFE IS PRECIOUS. YOUR TIME IS PRECIOUS!
Use your phone, tablet or computer to SCHEDULE NOW.
My mission is ‘patient-centered’ practice where integrative, compassionate and evidence based medicine will set you on the way to get better.
I am excited to meet new patients, share your journey and develop a long-term relationship.
I was in 5th grade when I was admitted to a hospital for severe liver disease for the first time. I was so impressed by the medical staff. The white coats, the knowledge they shared, and the respect they received. I felt so compelled to do this in my life, offer compassion, and receive the same consideration from patients. It took six years of medical school, and I became the first physician and the first university graduate in my family.
Many hours in the hospital made me understand the medical profession is a calling. I enjoyed spending time with patients, but I was passionate about teaching. Being a cardiology resident, I enrolled in a Ph.D. program that qualified me for a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. In 2005, a simple girl from a small town in Romania stepped on the stairs of one of the most world-known universities. For me, even the idea to travel once in the US was out of my league. I could not have afforded it, and there were many visa restrictions. My parents sold a piece of land and gave me 2000 dollars when I left Romania. I felt rich until I landed in Boston and realized that those would cover just the expenses of my loft and a week of food. An excellent friend lent me money to pay for my airline fare. While working as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, I had the opportunity to learn the basics of medical research. I moved to the University of Pittsburgh one year later, where I met and married my husband and had my first baby. Pittsburgh was the largest transplant center globally. What a chance for me to meet Dr. Thomas E Starzl that made history with his first liver transplant in the world. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to coordinate a clinical study that involved six universities across the United States, from Stanford to Columbia, Pittsburgh, or Washington University, where children that received a heart transplant were evaluated for their genetic risk to accept their transplant. Our study greatly impacted the clinical management of these kids, and I was invited to present these results to many national and international conferences.
However, something was missing … I missed my patients!
In 2011, I resumed my clinical training here in the US, and in 2016, I graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s rheumatology fellowship program.
Why rheumatology? It is a specialty where you see how everything is connected, the mind, the body, the nutrition, and the immune system. It is such a rewarding specialty where you build long-term relationships with patients and, most importantly, you relieve their pain. It was natural for me; my previous training in cardiology and my immunology Ph.D., combined with my love for people, made my choice so easy.
As a rheumatologist, I witnessed how patients wait for 4-6 months or travel for tens or hundreds of miles to see me. I had very little time and always felt rushed to get to the next patient. I loved to educate my patients about nutrition, mindfulness, or exercise, but there was no time left.
Documentation and billing were topics addressed much more than patient care. The incentive was to see more patients, but we were penalized for patient satisfaction scores.
There was little or no control of my schedule, and emergencies were seldom addressed in time as my schedule was always overbooked.
Often, I heard patients’ frustration related to outrageous or surprise bills. Every year, patients will complain about increased costs and limited access, and some patients were no longer allowed by their insurance to continue to see me. As a physician, I had no idea how much the hospital charges the patients. I had no idea how much the cost of my consultation, laboratory test, or imaging studies that I ordered. When I asked, I discovered that this is “confidential information that the hospital negotiated with insurances.”
We are all comfortable doing online shopping, banking, entertainment, and finding our way home using google maps. In an era where technology is at our fingertips, I wondered why patients couldn’t access their doctor using a phone, laptop, or desktop? Why not get medical advice and evaluation?
After six months of research, in 2019, I decided to start my own company where I can see patients in need when they need it the most.
Rheumatologist OnCall was born on the idea to broaden access to a specialist from the comfort of your home, no travel, no wasted time, no waiting rooms.
Rheumatologist OnCall broadens access to a specialty in high demand and offers accessible, affordable, and transparent costs for consultations, laboratory, and imaging services. There is no need for copayments, no insurance companies restricting how I practice medicine. In one year, I expanded my company from seeing patients in 5 to 10 US states.
It is a direct specialty care practice where patients directly communicate with me, the physician. Not the medical assistant, not the nurse, not the register.
Don’t be surprised if I answer the calls, if I call you in the evening or if you get a greeting card from me. I am your doctor, and I value my relationship with you the most.
My patients are my people, not numbers, not cases.