BlueWave Medicine may not look like a typical doctor’s office at first glance. Tucked between a nature trail and the San Francisco Bay in Palo Alto, its lobby features art and an assortment of teas.
According to Los Altos resident Yumi Ando, M.D., an internist and BlueWave’s medical director, the clinic is unique in the region, combining a concierge service with an integrative medical practice.
“We are one of the few integrative clinics in the South Bay staffed by physicians,” she said. “We bring an added component to our service.”
BlueWave fuses conventional, alternative and lifestyle medicine in its practice. This means that Ando is joined not only by two other doctors, but also by a group of approximately 12 personal trainers, licensed psychiatrists, acupuncturists and a masseuse.
“I honestly think this is the way medicine should be practiced,” she said.
For a doctor who has worked at Stanford Hospital and the U.S. State Department, this is a bold statement. She compared her current work with her practice at Palo Alto Medical Foundation, where she worked before coming to BlueWave in late 2015.
“At PAMF, you refer patients to a dietitian you may never know. Here, we have a relationship with a nutritionist and a team approach to care,” she said. “The patient only goes to one place.”
Ando said wellness – a category of care that focuses on ways in which individuals can both proactively avoid illness and achieve peak professional performance – often seems inaccessible to people. She tries to bring the wellness approach to individual patients.
“I had a very geriatric population at PAMF,” she said. “They felt too old for wellness, but there is no aging out of it.”
BlueWave is a concierge practice, meaning that the patient pays an annual fee to the practice to access its care. This helps doctors limit the number of patients they see. Bluewave doctors are limited to working with 150 patients, compared with the “thousands” Ando said she saw at PAMF.
“Per capita, we probably have more concierge medicine here in Silicon Valley than anywhere else,” Ando said. “People are gravitating toward consumer-based medicine.”
According to Adam Barde, BlueWave’s director of operations, their care lies in an even more unique subset.
“Concierge medicine is unique in itself, and we have a very robust integrative approach: yoga, physical therapy, nutrition, acupuncture, psychotherapy,” Barde said. “The goal is to provide a truly integrative approach to wellness.”
However, there is another side to this: It can be expensive for patients.
“We don’t take insurance, but people’s insurance is still valid everywhere else,” Barde said. “For labs and prescriptions – your insurance covers it.”
Ando gave the example of one of her patients, who has hip surgery scheduled. The surgeon is not affiliated with BlueWave and is covered by the patient’s insurance. All the same, Ando plans to help the patient prepare for surgery and visit her in the hospital – as well as aid in her recovery – as part of BlueWave’s care.
Then again, in an uncertain insurance climate, things could change quickly.
“People are gravitating toward consumer-based medicine,” Ando said. “Insurance companies are looking at it because outcomes are better.”
Serving the community
Ando, who lives near Grant Park, said she understands how concierge medicine may not be for everyone quite yet. But she also believes that BlueWave might suit more people than some realize.
The office’s “a la carte” services for acupuncture and massage work as gateways into the world of integrative care.
“We are starting to get to be known in the physician community, or through people who come in, through a la carte,” Ando said.
In a place like Los Altos, with a small-town feel, word of mouth is also effective.
“We’re part of a pretty cohesive community, which I like,” she said.
That community continues into the office. BlueWave’s yoga instructor, Joanie Cartal, said she signed up to work with the team when she heard what they were doing.
“I am a big advocate of holistic health because we are complicated creatures,” Cartal said. “This is the wave of the future.”
“It is all about the patient experience,” he said. “It’s what health care should be.”
BlueWave Medicine is located at 3430 W. Bayshore Road, No. 103, Palo Alto. For more information, call 752-6648 or visit bluewavemedicine.com.