In honor of her birthday month, our Q&A with Sonia Singh, MD, primary care physician & founder of Juniper Modern Primary Care.
Happy birthday! How are you celebrating this year?
I like to keep it simple – My husband and I have reservations for the tasting menu at Tatemo.
How many candles are you blowing out?
What’s on your birthday wish list?
A new pair of AirPods.
Tell us about Juniper, your boutique, membership-based primary care practice designed to serve busy, local women.
I had my son at the start of the pandemic, May 2020. Seeing the healthcare system from the patient point-of-view and becoming a mother during this incredibly stressful time completely changed my perspective. I realized that women in particular weren’t being served in the ways they wanted and needed. We go through SO many transitions in our 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, and yet the healthcare system acts as if all we need is a cookie-cutter, yearly physical. I wanted to provide the kind of healthcare I would want for myself, my friends, my sister, etc.
You are a Stanford-trained board-certified internist. What frustrates you about traditional medicine?
The focus on sick-care rather than prevention, the lack of price transparency, the inefficiency, the lack of respect for patients’ time, the stone-age technology, the assumption that high quality medical care can be delivered in less than 15 minutes, the prioritization of profit over patient care.
You offer patients 24/7 direct access to you to partner with them on their long-term health to address root causes through evidence-based lifestyle changes rather than medicine. Are we over prescribed?
Studies have shown that around 30% of prescriptions are never even filled. What this tells me is that many patients aren’t looking for a quick fix or just aren’t comfortable taking medications. I do believe our current system leads many doctors to suggest medication without first understanding the patient’s priorities and concerns. This is primarily because most doctors lack the time to have that discussion and/or the training to counsel patients effectively on nutrition and evidence-based lifestyle changes.
One doctor’s appointment a woman should never miss?
Her annual visit with a trusted PCP!
Three things women are doing wrong with their overall health.
1. Using their Ob/Gyn as their PCP. Ob/Gyns already cover so much during well woman exams, but women’s health is so much bigger than reproductive or gynecologic health. No matter how great your Ob/Gyn is, she will be SO grateful for you to have a separate PCP to help track and improve your blood pressure, cholesterol, sleep, etc. and treat an occasional acute issue.
2. Overspending on unnecessary supplements and tests. I’ve noticed an explosion of Instagram clickbait for “wellness” products including supplements and fertility/food sensitivity/microbiome tests. Most of these aren’t helpful but they can be really hard to resist when you’re not feeling well and haven’t had good experiences with the healthcare system.
3. Putting themselves last. I find that most moms will arrange medical appointments, exercise/sports and prioritize prepping meals for everyone else in the family (including the pets) before themselves. This leaves so many of them feeling totally depleted and not recognizing or correcting health issues until they are out of control.
Tell us about the appointment process.
Once patients join Juniper through the website, they receive a welcome email with a link to schedule their first appointment. I can usually get people in within a couple of days. I have patients do all the new patient forms and consents online prior to their appointment which allows me to request and review their medical records and learn more about them before the visit. This also means there’s no forms to fill out once patients arrive at their appointment and we can get started right away. There is typically no wait, and I spend a full hour with all new patients. In the first visit I typically review all their concerns as well as their diet, activity, sleep, hydration and stress levels. After the visit I send patients a detailed summary that includes recommendations and action items for each of their concerns and any preventive care they may be due for. I typically order blood work at the first visit and follow-up with them virtually within 2 weeks to review the results in detail.
Three apps you can’t live without in your job?
Planoly (social media planning so I can be present in my life and still keep up with the ‘gram)
Spruce (allows me to text my patients in a secure, HIPAA-compliant manner)
StoryShot (concise summaries on a variety of business books)
People would be surprised to learn this about you…
I was an Elite Yelper in 2018.
What neighborhood do you call home?
Woodland Heights. I love that there is a real sense of community (and insane amounts of holiday spirit!).
Podcasts and/or series you’re addicted to?
Just finished Ozark and am sad it’s over. I listen to A LOT of podcasts. Favorites are The Moth Radio Hour, This American Life, You’re Wrong About and How I Built This.
First job ever.
Alphabetizing patient charts in my dad’s medical office. Still LOVE organizing things.
If you had an hour to yourself, what would you do?
Wander around a HomeGoods with a double iced latte in hand.
Juniper Modern Primary Care
5373 W. Alabama St, Suite 204
Houston, TX 77056
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