Our success has been built on small businesses in Eastern North Carolina, and in particular Direct Primary Care practices.

What’s Direct Primary Care you might ask? According to DPCare.org:

Direct Primary Care is an innovative alternative payment model in primary care embraced by patients, physicians, employers, payers and policymakers across the United States.The defining element of DPC is an enduring and trusting relationship between a patient and his or her primary care provider. In DPC, unwanted fee-for-service incentives are replaced with a simple flat monthly fee. This empowers the doctor-patient relationship and is the key to achieving superior health outcomes, lower costs and an enhanced patient experience.

Our first client was Dr. Steven Manning, a Direct Primary Care physician in Williamston NC at his practice Access Medicine.  Before I get to the tech-nerd stuff, I’ll give a short testimony of how DPC has helped my family.

Our DPC Story

When our first child was born, we had a very high insurance deductible. And with newborns you’re going to the doctor twice, sometimes three times a month which can run that deductible up pretty quick.  Rather than paying out of pocket, the full amount of bills for our son seeing a physician in a traditional clinic model we looked to Dr. Manning for his pediatric and primary care needs.  Most DPC clinics offer individual monthly pricing and family pricing, and at the time we opted for individual pricing for our little one which came in at a total of $20/month at the time.  Now, you might be asking, why didn’t you just let the deductible run up and then pay monthly on the bill?  Well, our deductible was much, much higher than paying $20/month for our DPC subscription.  At that time (pricing structure has changed marginally since then) we’d pay our $20/month, auto drafted from our checking account, and then $20 for each visit.  Still we were coming out cheaper than paying out our deductible through insurance claims.

The best part? No waiting forever in a room full of sick kids only to be rushed back, triaged, and seen by the doctor for a total of 5 minutes.  At Access Medicine, we walk in, are seen in just a few minutes, and get to spend up to an hour with our physician, ask any questions we need to, and even speak with a specialist if needed.  Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in that kind of model with an AWESOME pediatrician, and I turned out just fine; but I can’t imagine the undue stress that accompanies the traditional insurance based model.

All that said, we’ve had an awesome experience with DPC and a great relationship with our doctor.

The Latest Williamston UniFi Install

Now to the nerdy stuff.  Dr. Manning’s office was the first DPC clinic we set up and managed.  At the start, he wanted to offer public wi-fi, with rate limiting, have a VoIP phone system, and wire the building for networking.  During that time, the product that we use for all of our clients now, Ubiquiti’s UniFi system, was in it’s infancy, and to be honest I hadn’t even heard about it yet.  In the first go around we installed Linksys 2.4ghz wireless AP’s with a small business router, a couple of PoE Linksys layer 2 switches and a Mitel VoIP phone system from Wallace Telecom.  Getting into layer 3 networking at that point was way outside of budget, so in order to segment the public wifi from the private wifi we created two separate subnets on the router.  This particular router happened to have two LAN ports, so we assigned 1 subnet to each LAN port and then had public and private layer 2 switches and AP’s.  This solution worked great for the next 3 years.

About a month ago, one of the private switches started to die.  Three years of almost constant uptime, heat, and dust will eventually destroy equipment that doesn’t have adequate fans/airflow or temperature management.  Each of the 24 port switches had 12 ports that could support PoE and the majority of the devices needing PoE were on the switch that died causing some problems.  Fortunately, I was able to move all the mission critical devices over to the non-failing switch until a new one could be ordered.  At that point Dr. Manning made the jump to UniFi.

We replaced both of the layer 2 switches with UniFi 24 port 250w switches, which are sort of hybrid layer 3 switches when the UniFi controller and a security gateway are involved.  Software Defined Networking is one of those things that doesn’t quite fit into the OSI model neatly.  We had talked about migrating all the equipment over to UniFi so that in the future if expansion was ever on the table, either in the current building or elsewhere, everything would be seamlessly integrated into the UniFi controller and easily configurable.  Within a couple weeks, a UniFi Security Gateway Pro 4, a UniFi Mesh Pro, and two UniFi Mesh Points were ordered and installed.

Now with the USG at the head of the operation, we can easily create VPN’s between additional offices to use VoIP phones off the Mitel server, access storage between locations, and easily provision configurations to all the hardware remotely from sunDigital’s cloud UniFi controller.  Not only do we have awesome stats generated from everything being UniFi controlled, but we can also implement so layer 3 configurations to the network, like adding subnets/vlans for particular devices, restricting access to the private network from the public wifi, and even creating an entirely separate network for Roanoke Therapy Service’s, the physical therapy company that occupies some of the office space, all running through one set of equipment.  The mesh equipment was chosen to allow for future expansion upstairs without the need for structured cabling, and for it’s omni-directional antenna design.  On a side note, Roanoke Therapy Services also runs their remote clinic in Plymouth on a UniFi Security Gateway, which will make using the Mitel phones there a breeze, without the need, or security vulnerability of port-forwarding.

Before and After

During the update to UniFi at Access Medicine, I cleaned up the rack from all the random cables and connections that have been made over the past 3 years and re-organized it to better utilize cable management.  Here’s a before and after of the rack.

This was just after replacing the two Linksys switches.  Things had been added over the years, the cables were too long, hook-style cable management was not the right choice for this rack.  It was functional, but that was about it.  After installing the new wireless and USG this is what the finished product looked like:

Overall, Dr. Manning has been very pleased with the UniFi equipment.  And as with most clients we serve, the ability to have total visibility of their network has also been one of his favorite features.

We hid the Mesh Pro in the same closet as the network equipment and mounted the two Mesh Points at the front of the office:

And you’ve always got to have a box shot:


Freedom Family Medicine’s UniFi Install

Just before we migrated Dr. Manning’s office to UniFi, we helped our second client Dr. Ashley Parker of Freedom Family Medicine in Wilson complete a total UniFi conversion and VMware upgrade.  Dr. Parker was a reference from Dr. Manning and we did almost an exact replica of what was done in Williamston in Wilson.  The only difference here is that Dr. Parker started out with UniFi APs….and that all of his computers were PC’s and not Mac’s….but we won’t hold that against him 🙂  His practice is very similar to Dr. Manning’s and he offers most of the same services at his practice at 2519 Airport Boulevard NW in Wilson.  Here’s a couple shots of the UniFi upgrade at his office:

sunDigital has been very busy the past couple months so we just wanted to recap a few things that have happened recently.  If there’s any questions about the UniFi equipment, please feel free to hit us up on twitter, facebook, or instagram.

For all your telecom/VoIP needs, check out Wallace Telecom at www.wallacetelecom.com

For more information about Direct Primary Care see Dr. Manning’s website at www.accessmedicine.co or if you’re in the Wilson area check out Dr. Parker at www.freedomfamilymedicine.com

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