Dec. 16, 2010
By Natalie Miller
Whether it’s out of curiosity or in hopes of finding a soul mate, people have been using speed dating to meet potential love interests for decades. But what about sitting across the table from a potential new primary care physician?
Hallmark Health System is putting a medical spin on classic speed dating by hosting Match.doc events for local residents looking for a new primary care physician. The first, held in Somerville last October, was so successful Hallmark decided to hold the next event in Malden.
On Wednesday, Dec. 8, five local doctors and one nurse practitioner sat down at Exchange Street Bistro in Malden to speak with local residents. Of the 15 participants that walked through, six left with appointments booked with their new physician.
Jesse Kawa, communications specialist for Hallmark Health Systems — which includes Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford and Melrose-Wakefield Hospital — said the events are convenient for people looking for a new physician since they can meet with a number of providers, ask questions and then walk out with an appointment that same day.
Kawa said the idea for the Match.doc events came from a staff member in the Community Services department, who read about similar events at other doctor’s offices in an AARP newsletter.
“We formed a committee,” said Kawa. “It’s a unique idea… and a fun way to match up with a primary care physician.”
In Malden, the doctors that participated included Karyn Entrop, MD and Vivian Ionescu-Tiba, MD, of Hallmark Health Medical Associates at Malden Family Health Center, Albert Fine, MD and Mohammed Hakim, MD of Hallmark Health Medical Associates at 101 Main St. in Medford, Hoai-Nu Vo, MD, whose office is in Melrose, and nurse practitioner Pamela Schwedler, who is located in Malden and specializes in OB/GYN.
Dr. Entrop, who is a member of Hallmark Health Medical Associates, Inc., Hallmark Health’s employed physicians group, said the event was fun.
“It really does feel like a date,” she said, adding that the atmosphere is relaxed, and it gives the doctors a chance to talk about themselves and their practice as well as about their services.
She said most of the questions asked were about the offices specially, such as, how many doctors are available, and how easy it is to get an appointment.
Availability and insurance seemed to be the most important things, said Dr. Entrop, saying that the participants asked about weekend and off-hour care as well as whether Mass Health and Medicare are accepted.
“I enjoyed it,” she said of the process, which offers potential patients a chance to see which physician’s personality fit with them instead of just picking a doctor off an Internet list.
Having a conversation with the participants was also beneficial, she said, as getting to know patients before they come in to the office breaks the ice.
“Then when they come into the office we’ve already met,” she said.
Unlike traditional speed dating events, the length of time each participant was able to spend with the doctors varied.
There was no bell, said Kawa, adding that some spent five minutes, while others took up to 15 minutes to meet with physicians.
She added that Hallmark Health is planning on hosting more Match.doc events in other communities.
Also, in an effort to appeal to a wider scope of potential patients, many languages were spoken at the event in Malden on Wednesday, including Romanian, Vietnamese, Bengali, Hini and Urdu.
The events are free and open to anyone, said Kawa, of any age and health status.