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Maria Boulton

Windsor, SEQ

Founded by Dr Maria Boulton and Dr Fiona Raciti, Family Doctors Plus aims to change the way health care is delivered in the community. Education is key to their approach, not only treating patients but also encouraging and informing them about healthy living to prevent poor health.

My name is Dr Maria Boulton.  I am director of Family Doctors Plus and I live in Brisbane.

My business, Family Doctors Plus, provides a completely different approach to healthcare.  We focus not just on disease but on education and on prevention.  My business has 12 employees, but we also rent rooms to 12 allied health professionals and we also have 10 other doctors working from Family Doctors Plus.

We look after all ages, all problems, because we are general practitioners so we have a very broad base of customers, but the thing about me is that I'm actually also fluent in Spanish so I get a lot of people that speak Spanish come from all over Brisbane because I think there's only about three of us doctors that speak Spanish and that way they can use their first language.

We actually are about one of the few practices that have a conference room and we hold education sessions from puberty through to menopause through to school readiness and not only that, but we’re also fundraising for the community as well.  So we’re not just happy sitting in our own office, we’re actually trying to improve everyone’s health.

Doctors Maria and Fiona are passionate about changing the way general practice and primary health care is delivered. The result is Family Doctors Plus, their medical practice based on quality time with patients as well as educating the community to encourage healthy lifestyles and prevent health issues. Both GPs were disillusioned with what they saw as the traditional ‘5 minute medicine’ method, which sacrifices a doctor’s time with their patients in order to maximise the number of patients they can see. Instead, their family-friendly practice not only provides comprehensive health care to all ages, but also aims to empower people to optimise their health and take charge of their own wellbeing.

To help achieve this, the practice runs popular weekly community education seminars on topics such as puberty, getting ready for school and menopause. This initiative is supported by regular health education newsletters for local kindergartens, schools, aged-care facilities and for expecting and new parents. Maria is also a regular guest on ABC Radio Brisbane discussing health news. Realising they can’t do everything, Maria and Fiona haven’t been afraid to engage professionals to assist with marketing, accounting and managing their online presence.

The community engagement and education program is proving successful, with Family Doctors Plus maintaining a high patient retention rate and hiring more doctors to serve their increasing number of patients. Word-of-mouth referrals have also played an important part in the practice flourishing. When looking for ways to improve their business and community engagement, Maria and Fiona recognised a gap in the local aged-care market - nursing homes were struggling to find doctors to provide onsite health care to their residents. As a result, Family Doctors Plus have established satellite clinics at 2 local nursing homes, with the same strong focus on preventing health issues as well as treating them.

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