By Luke Pedersen, Vitals contributor
Like many people his age, 71-year-old Bay Area resident Otis Griffin preferred seeing his doctors and other healthcare providers only through in-person visits. Today, Griffin is finding success in achieving many of his wellness goals by embracing a virtual-first approach to primary care called Tera Practice.
“Historically, an in-person doctor visit was my preference because I liked one-on-one care in a traditional office setting with a clinician,” Griffin said. “Tera offered me the ability to see my doctor through video without having to leave home, so I decided to give it a chance.”
After a few in-person visits with Dr. Yumi Taylor, the founding clinician of Tera, Griffin says that he was ready to try a virtual visit with a Tera health coach.
“I have a few health issues with hypertension and high cholesterol,” Griffin shared. “At my age, I figure it’s prudent to start working on some healthy lifestyle changes. Dr. Taylor and team are really helping me with that.”
With Tera, which is available through Sutter Health in select communities, a personalized care team — including a primary care physician (PCP), an advance practice clinician, a nurse, and a registered dietitian — provide virtual care through My Health Online and offer in-person appointments* as needed.
Tera and many of the health services Griffin has access to are covered through his employer-sponsored health plan, Sutter Health Plus. He hopes that by sharing his experience, he can inspire others like him who may be hesitant about receiving virtual care.
Since signing up with Tera, Griffin is increasingly optimistic and engaged in managing his health. He says that he is making headway with some of his health goals, including improving his mental well-being. He also began one-on-one coaching with his care team’s registered dietician to develop a plan for healthier eating habits.
From hypertension control to cancer care to life expectancy, Dr. Taylor says that the Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities have experienced gaps in positive health outcomes due in part to a lack of trust in the health system. She says that building rapport over time with Griffin on his terms helped to open a conversation about addressing his health needs and accessing care in a new way.
“I recognized from our first conversation that he wasn’t quite ready to get started with virtual primary care. He later shared that this was related to trust issues,” says Dr. Taylor. “I am thrilled to see that Otis is now embracing Tera’s full-service virtual care features, like messaging with me and personal coaching for chronic disease and behavioral health management.”
Griffin enjoys the conveniences of virtual care, including a direct connection to his care team with 24/7 messaging through My Health Online, at no extra cost.
“One of the best things about Tera is the time savings,” he said. “I don’t have to drive to a doctor’s office, find parking and spend time in a waiting room. I mostly communicate with my care team through online messaging, and it’s a simple process. I’ve also had some virtual appointments though telephone and video, and that’s been going well.”
Griffin says he has developed a true connection with Dr. Taylor and the entire care team, something he once thought only possible exclusively in person.
At present, Tera Practice is available through Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation and Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation-affiliated physicians. Click here for more information. Learn more about Tera at sutterhealth.org/tera and Sutter Health Plus at sutterhealthplus.org.
* Please note: If a member selects a Tera provider who does not have an office in their local community, the member may need to travel for an in-person appointment. Members may also be able to see another Sutter provider closer to home.