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Fertility Doctor of the Month: Michael J. Levy, M.D.
Michael J. Levy, M.D., Shady Grove Fertility. Rockville, MD
Dr. Michael J. Levy is a reproductive endocrinologist and co-founder of Shady Grove Fertility, the largest fertility clinic in the U.S. Shady Grove performed approximately 4,000 fresh IVF cycles in 2011, according to the CDC, and more than 35,000 babies have been born since he launched the IVF program in 1991. We recognize Dr. Levy as a leader and an innovator, both as a clinician and a businessman. As such, FertilityAuthority is pleased to honor Dr. Levy as Doctor of the Month.
Fertility Patients First
“I remember years ago a physician in a top program said ‘I don’t understand why these patients are complaining [about the long wait times for ultrasounds]. We have the best success rates. Do they want us to get them pregnant or do they want us to hold their hand?’ Obviously, the answer is you have to do both,” Levy says.
Providing a supportive and personalized experience on the scale they have is “tremendous,” he adds. They realized years ago that in a practice their size, every patient has to have one doctor and one nurse. Otherwise, he says, people will worry that they’re going to get lost in the shuffle.
A personalized experience means telling a patient to try to conceive at home for six months if the physician believes that’s the best option, or providing complex high-tech treatment. “We have to do it really well with the best results, and we won’t compromise that. We hold ourselves and each other to that,” Levy adds.
Affordable IVF Treatment
One of Levy’s goals and what he describes as a “personal challenge” has been to make fertility treatment affordable. Approximately 40 percent of Shady Grove patients don’t have insurance coverage for infertility treatment; they are paying out-of-pocket. The practice offers three financial products: Shared Risk provides a 100 percent refund of IVF and donor egg after six failed cycles; Shared Egg donation can save recipients up to 50 percent of the cost of a donor egg IVF cycle; and Shared Help, which provides discounted treatments to patients with income of $95,000 or less. Levy says the objective is “if the patient doesn’t walk away with a successful delivery, they are financially intact.”
Egg Donation Program
Levy describes the egg donor recruitment process at Shady Grove as very active, very thorough, and very picky. He says they are very cognizant of their responsibility to the donors and the recipients, and recipients appreciate that they are “thoughtful about the donors” whom he describes as well-screened and well-prepared.
In 2007, Levy started the Shady Grove International Donor Egg Program. The vast majority of their overseas patients are coming from the UK and Canada and 98 percent of those are coming for egg donation.
On the Horizon
Levy says there are three areas the practice are focusing on. On the clinical side, the continued refinement of IVF leading toward higher success rates is one. Second is single embryo transfer, which is leading the way for decreased multiple pregnancy rates. Currently 30 percent of IVF cycles at Shady Grove are single embryo transfer, and they have maintained and improved pregnancy rates, Levy says. And, the clinic’s frozen egg bank is a big advance as well.
We are a Team Culture
Levy is proud of the fact that Shady Grove has strong employee retention, with many staff at the practice for 20 years. “Culturally we really try and make sure that everyone, from physician to front desk to the business office, is with us on the only guiding philosophy, which is ‘Do the best thing for the patient.’”
And, he adds, “We have a very effective group of physician leaders and more importantly great administrators which allows physicians to practice medicine and not deal with business.”
“If you don’t have a well-run business you can’t have a good clinical practice. They go hand in hand.”
Nominate Your Fertility Doctor
Do you know a fertility doctor who deserves to be recognized for his or her outstanding accomplishments? Submit a nomination for Fertility Doctor of the Month.