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December 2020 Newsletter

Dear Patients,

Well, this is it. Here we are. End of 2020. What a crazy year. I will be glad when this year is over and hope that 2021 will be much better. Bittersweet moment for me as this will be my final newsletter to those that will not be joining us as we finalize our transition to our CCPHP concierge medical home. For those that have joined and will continue with us , this will be a new beginning as we journey together for the next 10 years into better health and wellness. Since this will be my last newsletter for most I want to take you down the memory lane of the last 20 years of my career, how I got here today, and where I am taking this clinic I have built so far. I am sharing these deep thoughts with you so that you have an understanding of what’s going through my mind as someone who is an independent doctor who owns their own business has to go through. This will be long FYI.

I first moved to Bellevue, WA in 2001 from Dallas, Tx and started to work for Bellevue Family Medicine and Associates. After working at BFMA for 4 years, I decided to go out on my own and start a solo practice in 2005. I had a different vision of how I wanted to practice and had to be my own boss to do it. The First big question that was asked of me as a business owner from colleagues and patients alike, “am I going to accept Medicare”? The Answer was of course. Many colleagues discouraged me not to take it, as the reimbursements are so low, I won’t make any money and my clinic will fail. This was a business question, not a doctor question. As a businessman I had to come up with clever ideas to make more money so that I can be a great doctor and take care of my Medicare patients. That clever idea was learning how to do Botox, lasers and sell supplements. I had to generate better cash flow to offset the lower medicare reimbursement rates. Guess what? It worked! I was able to keep my medicare patients while the business slowly grew.

Two years later in 2007 we hit a recession. Many patients were affected. They lost their job, which means they lost their insurances. A lot of patients could not pay their copays or their deductibles. Being a family physician was tough, but you know what’s tougher? Owning that family practice that is struggling with insurances, especially medicare, while having to write off many balances. So, the second big question was asked of me as a business owner by colleagues, “why don’t you give up family medicine and do full time esthetics?” You see, per hour of my time, I can make twice as much money if I only did Botox and lasers vs. seeing patients all day. So basically they are asking me “why am I taking a pay cut to take care of you on the medical side when the esthetic side makes twice as much?”
The answer is because my patients need me and I love my patients and family medicine is what is needed more and I can make a difference.

Fast forward to 2012 and we are coming out of the recession. Business has steadily grown over the past 5 years, even during recession. After subleasing for 7 years from colleagues’ space, and saving up everything I had, I was able to move into my own building where we are today.

Fast forward to 2020 and we hit the Covid pandemic which brought back another recession. This time however, not only are my patients losing their job and insurance, patients are scared to come to the clinic to get anything done because of Covid. We downsized. We are moving to a smaller space.
There are no more options left to explore. Now I am forced to deal with having to come up with an answer to the final question : “am I going to go 100% esthetics now or still try to salvage the medical side by going 100% concierge medicine?” You all know the answer to that by now.

Why am I telling you all these thoughts in my head? Because I want you to know where I am coming from. I am saddened by this empty feeling inside of me saying goodbye to patients that I have delivered, that I have saved from cancer, from heart disease , from broken relationships, from depression and despair. I would not be lying to you if I told you my heart is broken. I believe in my heart that I have done my very best to help everyone I’ve taken care of over the past 20 years. Honestly, I think I make a better doctor than a businessman, although people have claimed I am better at business than most doctors. To tell you the truth, statements like that do not make me feel any better. It sucks being in charge of having to make hard decisions. I wish running a business was easy. Being a doctor is more natural to me.

There you have it. My whole story for the past 20 years of my career, where it started and where it is now. While I leave behind many, I am honored to take the 300 of you with me to my next chapter in life as a concierge physician. I am excited to see what the next 10 years together will look like in this crazy world we are living in. Thank you for reading this long newsletter and best wishes to everyone over the holidays.
Stay safe and be well.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe New Year!

Dr. Suh