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Why Blue of Tennessee is ‘a step beyond’: Q&A with Sanitas medical director Joel Fine, MD

With inflation still a major concern for most Tennesseans, having access to convenient, affordable health care has never been more important. That’s why we’ve redesigned our eight Blue of Tennessee with Sanitas medical centers to provide high-quality, cost-effective primary care at a critical time.

“We’re a full-stop shop,” says Joel Fine, MD, Sanitas regional medical director for Tennessee. “Sanitas is open six days a week, with extended hours at certain locations.  We take care of diagnostics. We take care of referrals. We help with arranging community care. We answer questions about benefits. We have a whole team behind us. This is the first clinic where I’ve worked that has this.”

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After three decades practicing medicine, Dr. Fine says he sees these centers as truly offering a fresh, convenient approach to comprehensive health care. Dr. Fine, a Sanitas physician, treats patients at our Blue of Tennessee location in East Nashville and shared an inside look at what patients can expect when visiting.  

What are the benefits of visiting a Blue of Tennessee location?

Dr. Fine: For one, we’re fully staffed. We have folks who greet you at the door. We have support staff, including our receptionist at the desk and the on-site BlueCross insurance advisor, the Sanitas medical assistant, the Sanitas providers, etc.

“The first person a visitor might see is the full-time employee of BlueCross in the lobby. It’s nice to have someone there because we know how complicated health care can be.”

When you look at your insurance statement, it has a lot of information. So it’s good to have a friendly face, a smile, someone to say, “Let me explain what all of this means for you, and how we can apply your benefits at this location.”

What services do you offer?

Sanitas’ services include all primary care, from young children to 99 years of age, as they say — but I intend to break that and make it 105 years of age [laughs]. We provide X-rays, EKGs, ultrasounds, blood draws, vaccinations.

Beyond the technology, we have quality people. When I go to a physician’s office, I look for comfort and quality. You want to connect with people. You want to feel welcome.  Sometimes it’s scary when you walk in a doctor’s office. Sometimes you’ve had a bad experience elsewhere. When you come to Blue of Tennessee with Sanitas, we’re going to do our best to change that for you.

How are these locations promoting overall better health?

I’ve been in health care for 30 years now. I’ve seen different models come and go over time. But what never seems to leave is that crucial element of spending time with someone. We want to engage with patients.

If you look at health care from an efficiency perspective, which many walk-in clinics do, maybe it seems better to have a patient on a conveyor belt, going through the motions and getting them in and out as quickly as possible.

But when you’re talking about you and your family, that’s not what you want. It’s certainly not what I want as a doctor. So when you come in, we’re going to spend a little extra time than those clinics.

“We’re going to make sure we ask you what you need to accomplish at that visit, not just what we think you need. It’s a team effort.”

What brought you to the East Nashville location to practice?

I chose East Nashville because it really struck the balance I was looking for. This community is interactive, dynamic and eclectic. We have patients with all types of insurance, from commercial employer plans to Medicaid to Medicare*. This allows me to practice the broadest type of medicine that I like.

We interact with the community. We have a presence, and we’re expanding it. We’re looking forward to hosting events for seniors and participating with food drives. Our employees live here, just like I do.

Is there a patient story that shows the difference that care provided here can make? 

Is there one patient story? No. There are at least 1,000 patient stories that demonstrate how Sanitas serves patients. Today alone, a patient came in with an abnormal EKG. We scheduled them with a cardiologist. Yesterday, someone had a seizure. The day before that, someone came in after having been in a car accident. We’re seeing around 100 patients a day here in the Nashville clinics, and there are 100 stories.

This location is here to make a difference. My job is to make a difference. That’s what’s rewarding when taking care of people.

“I can’t imagine another job that gives me the satisfaction that I get as providing health care services and making a difference.”

Knowing every patient is different, can you walk us through a typical visit?

A patient walks in the door. They’re greeted by our receptionist and the BlueCross representative. The BlueCross advisor verifies their insurance and answers any questions about their benefits. They then check in for medical care from Sanitas staff. We try to keep our wait times under 15 minutes. 

Joel Fine, MD, Sanitas medical director, with Amanda Adams, NP, at Blue of Tennessee in East Nashville

We have our office visit and initial discussion. We check vital signs. If they need a mammogram, some of our facilities have that in-house. If they need an EKG, or a blood draw, if they need to schedule a colonoscopy, a Pap smear, really any and all the preventive health services, we make that happen for them. We carry the full range of vaccines as well as children’s and women’s health services.

When you leave the visit, you could have had pretty much everything you need to have done for your health care.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about Blue of Tennessee?

We’re developing new programs, including an online platform with virtual visits. We’re planning outreach further into the community with house calls. We’re growing with the times, with technology, with accessibility.

We’re here to provide care a step beyond what the next clinic does. That’s our goal. 

*Other providers are available in our network.

About Jesse Thompson, Senior Communications Specialist

A photo of the authorJesse joined the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee corporate communications team in 2017. A Chattanooga native, he has more than 15 years’ experience in content creation, management, and strategy for consumer audiences, including a six-year stint in health care marketing.

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