New practice offers senior-focused, value-based care


Some of the best things in life can come with aging – wisdom, grandchildren and, of course, Medicare! For most, Medicare means lower or no monthly premiums and the ability to visit a doctor more often if needed, and now the government healthcare program has become even more beneficial for Vero residents.

Dr. Michael Fortunato has opened VIPcare Senior Focused Primary Care, which caters exclusively to Medicare and Medicare Advantage patients. Dr. Fortunato says value-based care is at the heart of VIPcare’s mission, focusing on the long-term health outcomes and overall satisfaction of patients.

This approach prioritizes preventative care, early interventions, and building strong patient-physician relationships. By integrating the principles of value-based care, VIP aims to reduce healthcare costs, improve health outcomes, and enhance patient experience.

“VIPcare is part of a growing group of practices that is getting back to the good old model of primary care, focusing on the patient-physician relationship,” said Dr. Fortunato, MD and primary care provider at VIPcare’s Vero Beach Location. “The elderly population is growing disproportionately and as people get older, they are more prone to chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiac diseases, dementia, and loss of muscle mass and strength. Add to that the inevitable loss of family and friends and many start to lose their social network. Financial insecurity is another issue. We’re living longer so the risk of running out of money for the elderly is real. These are some of the challenges that we see with those 65 or older.

“Aging presents challenges not only for the individual but for the society at large,” Dr. Fortunato continued. “Our population is aging at a rate much higher than is being added to by a younger generation to support the elderly population. In 1920, 1 out of 20 people were over the age of 65, in 2020, 1 out of 6 are over the age of 65. The population over age 65 has grown 34 percent in the last decade alone.

“Recognizing the need for these patients to have extra care, VIPcare offers a concierge level of senior-focused care without any extra costs,” Dr. Fortunato said. “We believe by seeing our patients frequently and really getting to know them while helping them manage their chronic disease, that we are more successful keeping people out of the hospital and keeping them healthier for a longer period of time.”

VIPcare is value-based care, not volume based, according to Dr. Fortunato. Doctors are rewarded more for taking good care of people rather than seeing high volumes of patients and doing sick care.

“It’s much more expensive to treat someone than it is to prevent them from getting sick,” Dr. Fortunato said. “With VIPcare, its quality over quantity. Instead of seeing 40 to 50 patients a day as some practices do, we limit our patient visits to 10 to 12 per day. We keep our panels small so that we can manage those patients better. For a patient with a chronic disease, we’ll see them about every three months. And we can spend as much time as we need to with them. Our schedule is light enough to work in any urgent care cases for established patients as needed.”

Medication reconciliation is another service provided by VIPcare providers.

“We monitor your medications and make sure that you’re on the most cost-efficient medications for your plan,” said Dr. Fortunato. “We also look at medications from other specialists to make sure they are interfacing well together.”

While genetics plays a significant role in aging gracefully, Dr. Fortunato suggests a few strategies to remain healthy with the goal of becoming older, not frailer.

  • Be kind to yourself and have patience with the changes that aging brings. Learn to see “problems as challenges.”
  • Be purposeful and have a schedule. Get dressed and make your bed. Have a plan for the day, week, month or year.
  • Pace yourself. If you can do now what you did 30 years ago, you weren’t doing that much 30 years ago.
  • Eat a healthy diet with foods that are as natural as possible and limit your alcohol intake.
  • Exercise. Any exercise works. No time spent doing even the least amount of exercise is wasted.
  • Find replacements for activities that you can no longer do such as replacing running with biking or tennis with pickleball.
  • Get proper sleep.
  • Remain engaged and spiritual.
  • Have your affairs in order.
  • Control your chronic conditions and optimize treatment strategies with your doctor. Discuss medication costs and alternatives.
  • Above all, be kind to yourself and make sure you get the high-quality treatment you deserve.

VIPcare has served patients for more than 17 years and operates over 100 clinics in Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia and Tennessee. With 100+ providers, VIPcare cares for more than 80,000 Medicare beneficiaries, utilizing a high-touch population health management approach that prioritizes spending quality time with the physician.

Dr. Michael Fortunato is a former senior medical officer in the U.S. Navy who attended the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo and completed his family practice residency at Wheeling Hospital. He is now accepting new patients at VIPcare’s Vero Beach location, 2032 U.S. 1. You can call 772-213-9614 to schedule an appointment. North county residents can visit Dr. Gregory Bahtiarian at VIPcare’s Sebastian Clinic located at 727 Sebastian Blvd., Unit B-1. 772-202-0946.

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