Perhaps no industry has changed more over the last decade than healthcare. Innovations in pharmaceuticals, surgery and even business models have changed the way all of us receive health care. One thing that hasn’t changed is men’s historical reluctance to see a doctor, especially for preventative care. Mike Whitfield thinks he can change that.
Whitfield, a Conway resident, is the founder and business director of Epoch Health (pronounced epic). Epoch Health is the first and only men’s health care chain in the country that focuses on complete health care for men. The first Epoch Health opened in Little Rock in 2012. In 2013, Epoch Health was acquired by Arkansas Urology, Arkansas’ largest urology practice. Today, there are open locations in North Little Rock; Springfield, Mo.; and a new temporary clinic in Conway. Epoch is currently building a new flagship clinic in Little Rock and renovating a permanent space in Conway. Nationally, Epoch is developing new Locations in Columbia and St. Louis, Mo.; Chicago, Ill.; and Anchorage, Ak., with many more on the horizon.
Scott Davis, CEO of Arkansas Urology explained the strategy that drove the 2013 acquisition. "There has been a proliferation of testosterone clinics in this country. The reality is patients were leaving traditional urology clinics or their primary care physician to go into these retail type clinics," said Davis. "The unfortunate trade-off was that they were frequently leaving behind the physicians who were best prepared to assess their total health."
Davis said that Arkansas Urology was in the process of developing its own clinic or business to compete with that trend. "Fortunately, we were able to acquire the Epoch brand. This differentiates our model of care from every other "Low T" (low testosterone) focused clinic in the state. In a marketplace filled with trendy and sometimes nonmedical solutions Epoch Health provides an environment where men can feel confident in the safety of their treatment through legitimate medical practices."
Dr. Tim Langford, president of Arkansas Urology echoes the strength of the model. "The services offered by Arkansas Urology complement Epoch Health’s brand. We’re merging decades of men’s health experience into one organization. It’s a combination of Arkansas Urology’s physician expertise and Epoch Health’s ability to reach and screen large numbers of patients."
Those screenings may be the single biggest distinguishing factor of the Epoch Health experience. "Our model isn’t designed around getting guys on testosterone. It’s designed around preventative care and identifying the causes of the symptoms men are feeling to place them on the proper treatment to live healthier and feel better," said Whitfield. "It’s about true men’s health and improving quality of life, not just testosterone therapy."
Whitfield said that the screenings are comprehensive and test signs of colon, bladder and prostate cancer. They also seek to diagnose malnourishment and nutritional deficiencies, sleep disorders, heart health and much more. "Epoch is comprehensive men’s health care. Though many men we see are candidates for testosterone therapy, we look at everything we can. Our approach is about a lot more than hormonal issues. We don’t consider it safe to jump into treatment without doing a full and proper screening. The best part is, we are affiliated with a non-profit that allows for our initial screening to be completely free to any man who walks in the door. "
On June 16, Epoch Health opened a temporary Conway location to serve area patients. The temporary office is currently open on Mondays only from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is next door to their permanent location at 800 Exchange Ave. (the corner of Exchange Avenue and Dave Ward Drive, across from Acxiom). Renovations to their permanent location should be complete early this fall. Even though Epoch has only been open a month and only sees patients one day a week, Whitfield says the response has been exciting. "The volume of patients is increasing every week. We’ve not ‘officially’ opened our location or marketed in this area and already dozens of men are coming in. We anticipate seeing between 500 and 600 guys per week when we’re fully operational."
The Conway clinic will be overseen by Dr. Richard D’anna of Arkansas Urology and staffed by Dr. Thom DeGraff. Dr. Degraff is a men’s health specialist, a preventative health care expert and a United States Air Force flight surgeon. Once in their permanent location, the clinic will see patients Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Whitfield says that Epoch Health can offer speed and convenience without sacrificing quality of care. "We’ve created a hybrid clinical model. People associate specialists and specialized care with long waits. With a combined visit and wait time of only about 20 minuets, we are going to be a convenient health care provider that men want to come see. There is no such thing as a ‘man doctor.’ There aren’t physicians designed for specifically for them. That’s the niche we want to fill — to become the men’s health specialists. With the free screening service we provide to the community, there is no excuse for any man to skip coming in to get checked out, it could just save his life"
For more information about Epoch Health visit EpochMensHealth.com.