“Who do I see to help ease my back pain?”
Using Google to ask such a question can yield so many results that it can make a person’s head spin. Should someone start off with a chiropractor or primary care physician, or just do physical therapy. Maybe a pain management specialist? In the end, an individual might end up seeing as many as four different providers, none of whom are coordinating and effectively managing the patient’s care. As a result, there’s simply no direct route to the best possible care and treatment.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Through the glass doors of a building at The Commons at Oaklands on West Lincoln Highway in Exton, something quite extraordinary is happening: Doctors are proactively collaborating to provide the best possible care treatment options for their patients. Instead of the isolating experience often associated with seeking out treatment for pain—seeing different specialists in different offices—patients discover the true coordination of care, according to Carl E. Hiller, D.C., who co-founded Chester County Pain and Primary Care with Joseph R. Verna, D.C., and Scott Massey, M.D.
This innovative practice has pioneered a platform designed to integrate patients’ medical and chiropractic care, with highly skilled physicians all under one roof. As a full-service pain management practice, as well as an office of general and internal medicine, Chester County Pain and Primary Care aims to revolutionize the way patients receive treatment.
A World of Benefits
The benefits to the patient are manifold. The obvious benefit is the efficiency and the convenience of not having to travel to so many different offices. More importantly, as Dr. Hiller explains, this arrangement provides patients with high-quality, truly integrated care.
“What has happened in the past is that patients’ care has been piecemealed,” he says. “They’ve been seeing different doctors for different treatments, none of which are being coordinated for the best possible outcome. We’re pulling all of those pieces together and ensuring patients have all options available to them at once.”
At Chester County Pain and Primary Care, patients are commonly seen for joint pain, migraines, and back pain, though many other conditions are treated as well. By adding primary care and internal medicine into the mix, Dr. Hiller says it’s truly an all-inclusive practice.
Dr. Massey and Maria Lepore, MSN, CRNP, handle the primary care and internal medicine aspect of the practice, comprising two core services: medical pain management, with interventions such as injections; and general and internal medicine. Patients will notice a distinct difference, Dr. Massey says, particularly in the amount of time practitioners spend with each individual who walks through the door.
“It’s a common complaint that patients only got to have face time with their doctor for five minutes,” Dr. Massey says. “It’s fair to say the way we do it is pretty unheard of in the world of primary care. We block out 25 minutes for an established patient—longer, of course, for new ones. This gives us the unique opportunity to really educate our patients, clinically collaborate, and offer unique treatment options and protocols to each patient.”
Education is a core differentiator, too. The doctors at Chester County Pain and Primary Care truly take the time to get to the bottom of a diagnosis and then educate their patients on not only what’s wrong but also on the available treatment options.
“I can’t tell you how many times a patient has said, ‘Nobody ever explained this to me or no one ever did such a comprehensive exam as you did,’” adds Dr. Hiller. “We want our patients to be confident in our clinical skills and fully educated on what’s going on.”
Of course, sometimes reaching a diagnosis is no small feat. In fact, some doctors may prescribe pain medications to ease patients’ back or neck pain without ever understanding what’s causing the pain. But Dr. Massey says Chester County Pain and Primary Care’s collaborative approach can facilitate an accurate diagnosis.
“We are truly a group of providers that are working on cases together,” he says. “That means lots of communication, case coordination, and clinical discussions about what’s best for the patient. In fact, the team reviews the daily cases together to ensure best practices. Many times, it’s a multidisciplinary approach, with more than one treatment modality, all happening under one roof where we can continue to consult with one another.”
In Dr. Verna’s words, patients achieve better outcomes when physicians truly work together.
“Looking at the complexity of patients’ conditions, this model of care is so much more effective than the specialist who is working in isolation and doesn’t truly know what other treatments the patient is receiving or how their progress is going,” he adds. “But Dr. Massey can walk into the rehabilitation center with me, see what exercises I’ve prescribed and how the patient is moving biomechanically, and then have a better feel for what else may be needed in terms of injections or additional treatment. It improves the overall efficacy of the treatment.”
A One-of-a-kind Approach
Once a diagnosis is made, Dr. Hiller says he and his colleagues utilize “many tools in the toolbox” to provide effective treatment. He’s quick to add, though, that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, particularly when it comes to pain management. Options may include traditional chiropractic care, injection therapy, and physical therapy and rehabilitation, as well as options in the burgeoning field of regenerative treatment.
The practice also offers treatment utilizing the Axiom Worldwide DRX9000 True Spinal Decompression System, which is an FDA-cleared alternative to surgery for chronic neck and lower back pain. Simply put, the treatment helps to reduce pain and symptoms by decompressing a patient’s lumbar discs and reducing inflammation of the facet joints.
If more conservative options fail, Chester County Pain and Primary Care offers more advanced pathways to relief. An affiliation with MIT- and Harvard-educated Andrew Freese, M.D., Ph.D., chief of neurosurgery at Tower Health’s Brandywine Hospital, means patients are in good hands should surgery become their best, or only, option.
“Our job is to start as conservatively as possible, and to avoid surgery when we can,” says Dr. Verna. “But sometimes surgery is needed, and we work closely with Dr. Freese and other surgeons to make sure the patient gets the care they really need and in a very timely manner.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean patients simply get passed off with a “good luck” and a pat on the back. Chester County Pain and Primary Care’s doctors are involved in the surgeon’s selection, and then communicate with the surgeon before and after the surgery, so they can “stay on top of what’s going on,” Dr. Hiller says.
In the end, this level of involvement is what makes this practice so unique. The doctors actually get to know their patients, follow their cases closely, and are able to secure the best care possible. For patients, that often means resolution to a problem they thought would never come. For Drs. Hiller, Massey, and Verna, that’s the best part of what they get to do every day.
“There’s nothing quite like being able to help a patient find relief from debilitating pain,” adds Dr. Hiller. “It’s a great feeling that will never get old.”
Chester County Pain and Primary Care, P.C.
The Commons at Oaklands
760 West Lincoln Highway
Photograph by Jody Robinson
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life magazine, February 2019.