Seeing your primary care doctor usually means long wait times and, if you’re lucky, 20 minutes of face time with your doctor. For patients, health care in America has come to mean rising costs and low-quality service. For many doctors, it has come to mean battling insurance companies, stacking patients to stay afloat, and sicker patients.

ZOOM+Care Prime in Portland, Oregon, is taking a radical new approach to primary care. It incorporates many of the innovations already used in ZOOM+Care neighborhood clinics, including affordable transparent pricing, no-wait visits, and the ability to schedule visits via ZOOM’s mobile app. What sets Prime clinics apart, however, is its emphasis on food and movement as a way to prevent and reverse chronic diseases.

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Using Food as Medicine

Dr. Craig McDougall, practice lead, says: “Traditional primary care in America is still focused on pills, procedures, and the prescription pad. Since we know that most chronic diseases are rooted in diet and lifestyle, we are focusing on food and movement as medicine.” Prime’s forward-thinking approach includes using technology to help with scheduling, billing, and even consultations—their telemedicine program includes the ability to chat online with doctors and nurses.

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Besides general medical care, Prime offers a food-as-medicine program that includes personalized lifestyle and health coaching, cooking classes, yoga, and video and email support. It’s already had a huge impact on patients with type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and high cholesterol who have been able to get off or significantly reduce their prescription medications.

McDougall comments, “We provide people the education and support but also the practical tools they need like cooking, grocery shopping, and eating out.” McDougall acknowledges that change can be hard, so Prime personalizes patients’ transition recommendations. “Some of my patients are ready to get on the program and will dive right in. Others need to ease into changing their diet slowly,” McDougall says. “Lifestyle changes are not all or nothing.”

ZOOM+Care Prime encourages a plant-based diet for all patients because they believe it’s the most scientifically supported eating pattern. Nutrition studies clearly show that people whose diets include a large amount of plant foods have a much lower risk of chronic disease. McDougall notes, “Most of the American diet (over 80 percent of calories) comes from processed and animal-based foods. Less than 10 percent of calories in the American diet come from fruits and vegetables. So we need to shift the balance toward more whole-plant foods.”

Want to learn more? Get Dr. Craig McDougall’s Top Tips for Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet

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