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Meet Aaron Miller of Thornwood Neurology

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aaron Miller.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Aaron. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
After I finished training in neurology in North Carolina, I went on different interviews looking for my first job. I ended up joining a great group of physicians in Bristol, TN. I really loved the job, but with the arrival of our second child, my wife and I felt we needed to be back closer to family and friends in the Chicago area. We picked a nice neighborhood in the western suburbs and found some space to build an office, just one mile from home! Starting a medical practice is not done very often, and now I see why. I modeled the clinic after the one I had left in Tennessee, and received a lot of help getting started from my former office manager. It took months of preparation, getting an Illinois medical license, a prescribing license, contracts with insurers. I bought the electronic medical record system I was already familiar with (or thought I was, I had barely scratched the surface on its capabilities). Once it was customized and “live”, we were ready to see patients! We hired Eva, the daughter of our real estate agent, as a medical assistant, and my wife helped with scheduling and patient calls. We had every kind of problem you can imagine, the wrong billing system, fax machine problems, internet problems, etc, but eventually we worked all the kinks out and have been building a patient base ever since. We opened our doors over four years ago now, and things are moving smoothly. It’s really rewarding to build something from scratch, especially when you know it will be there for years or even decades, and have complete control over the process. And being there able to serve the neurological needs of the community, sometimes even neighbors, is very satisfying.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
We had outsourced billing initially, and this was a disaster. Now we have in-house billing on Fridays with Joyce, who has done this I think longer than I’ve been alive, and who is a pleasure to work with. A lot of customization was also required for our electronic health record (EHR) system, which is quite capable but also can be quite complex. Most frustrating was when our EHR would just not work, and this improved when we got a stronger router. We’ve just had to roll with the punches and learn a lot as we go.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I’m a general neurologist, so I see a wide array of illnesses, from migraine and seizure to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. I can perform nerve tests in the office to evaluate for carpal tunnel syndrome or peripheral neuropathy. We’re a bit of what’s being called a “micropractice”, we’re small. I’m able to get patients in fairly quickly, we’ve had the same staff for four years, so I know the patients and the patients know us. We have a patient portal as well as a general email address that lets me communicate with patients for quick simple questions that don’t require an appointment. We have patients transfer to us because they have trouble reaching people at their prior neurologist’s office, so I know we have something unique and appreciated.

What were you like growing up?
It depends who you ask! On one hand I read a lot, from fiction to On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, and on the other, I enjoyed backyard sports, riding bicycles, and playing video games with my friends. Starting in high school, I started to consistently do well academically and became interested in psychology. When I decided to go to medical school, I wrestled some with becoming a psychiatrist instead of a neurologist. I’m happy with my eventual decision, and wouldn’t change a thing.

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