Direct Primary Care

Direct Primary Care Pros and Cons - A Guide For Patients and Doctors

As a response to the failing American healthcare system, DPC takes control from third parties that nurtured profits and neglected the relationship between doctors and patients.

For providers who had both Direct Primary Care and traditional medical practice, the former is an innovation. With doctors and patients bypassing insurance providers to provide primary healthcare services, providers can focus on healing and treatment rather than unnecessary paperwork.

Under the DPC model, patients pay you a fixed membership fee in exchange for a specific range of healthcare services. The fee may also include significant discounts on non-specialist laboratory services and medications.

Pros and Cons of Direct Primary Care

Learn more about the potential outcomes of the DPC model. In this blog, we will cover the Direct Primary Care pros and cons of both the physician and the patient.

Direct Primary Care Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons of Direct Primary Care have been classified into two parts - 1. For Patients 2. For Doctors

Direct Primary Care Pros and Cons for Patients

If you are considering DPC for your primary health care option, we are here to provide you with a comprehensive list of DPC pros and cons so that you can evaluate the merits of this healthcare model from your perspective.

Advantages of Direct Primary Care for Patients

  • 24/7, 365 days direct access to the doctor: Patients can have any issue addressed, even with just a text or a call. DPC gets rid of all inefficiencies such as office front desks and answering machines.
  • 30-60 minutes-long doctor consultations: Because DPC doctors only see five to 10 patients per day, you can take as long as you need to explain your medical condition thoroughly.
  • Full attention from the provider: Since doctors can understand your condition, they do not unnecessarily recommend specialist consultations or run tests. This saves patients valuable time, effort, and money because providers feel confident about their diagnosis.
  • The doctor is always available: Gone are the days that patients have to through an extremely bureaucratic process to get an appointment. DPC doctors only see 200-800 patients, so you can book an appointment right away instead of waiting for your turn.
  • The well-being of their patient is their only priority: Because patients pay them directly, the only interest of the doctor is improving their health.
  • Doctors are available for home visits if needed: With home visits, patients can avoid expensive ER and urgent care costs because the doctor takes a proactive role in healing the patient through home treatment.
  • Patients and doctors develop a more personal working relationship: With doctors now having the time to get to know the patients more, they become more effective healthcare providers to their panel.
  • Reduced overall healthcare spending: Direct primary care may seem pricier than its insurance-based counterpart. But the extra attention and care patients get more than makes up for the price difference – saving them from incurring unnecessary healthcare costs.
  • Doctors do not answer to insurance providers: Insurance providers are profit-generating enterprises. And without that influence, doctors make decisions in the best interest of their patients at heart.
  • There are no middlemen: Healthcare is just between the doctor and the patient. Therefore, unnecessary private entities that complicate a simple transaction are not entitled.
  • Doctors become true patient advocates: Because there is no insurance provider to overburden them, doctors now have time to participate in patient advocacy.
  • Quicker diagnosis of critical conditions: Doctors have the time to understand potentially complicated medical conditions, enabling them to flag critical illnesses even without specialist consultants.
  • Patient-focused care: Direct Primary Care creates an environment where patients – not profit – become the focus of healthcare.

Disadvantages of Direct Primary Care for Patients

  • They still need insurance: DPC only covers primary care services, and your membership fee may not cover anything beyond, such as hospital stays and ER visits.
  • Membership fees may not be tax-deductible: There is no clear policy on whether DPC membership fees fall under 'qualified medical expense'.

As a provider, if you are considering switching your practice to Direct Primary Care, you might find these helpful in setting up your practice and gathering patients in your panel.

Direct Primary Care Pros and Cons for Providers

Suppose you are considering DPC as your primary model. In that case, we are here to provide you with a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of Direct Primary Care for doctors so that you can evaluate the merits of this healthcare model compared to the traditional fee to a service model.

Advantages of Direct Primary Care for Providers

  • Decide how many patients you want to have: You can provide exceptional healthcare because you are not forced to see too many patients per day.
  • No insurance paperwork: This way, you can focus all your attention on your patient and become a more effective doctor.
  • Professional satisfaction: Knowing that you are transforming the lives of your patients by providing the best medical care, you will have the professional satisfaction that you might not get from seeing a patient for only five to 10 minutes at a time.

Disadvantages of Direct Primary Care for Providers

  • You will have to market your practice: If you already have a good reputation in your area, this will not be as challenging because you already have a market base. Regardless of your reputation, we encourage you to invest in marketing activities to drive patients to your practice.
  • Potential low income at the beginning: Like any business, you may have to wait a while before your practice gains traction. Until you build a solid customer base, you will have to focus your efforts at first on patient acquisition.

Problems with Direct Primary Care

  • There is a low DPC awareness level:

    The DPC movement has a hard yet significant task on its hands: to dismantle the decades-long efforts of third parties that alienated Americans from exceptional health care.

    Fortunately, we are succeeding in spreading awareness. As a result, states are now legislating laws recognizing Direct Primary Care as legitimate healthcare that is not tied to an insurance provider.

  • It intensifies physician shortage:

    To place the burden on doctors who want to make patients – not paperwork – the focus of their profession is wrong. The only way to stop the shortage is by creating more physicians.

  • It could sometimes feel restrictive:

    A patient who travels a lot may not access their DPC provider for physical appointments, but they can still maintain phone and video communication with their provider.

Among many reasons, this is why 90% of DPC patients are satisfied with their healthcare than 67% in the traditional practice.

DPC practices also outline the terms and inclusions of the membership in their contracts, empowering patients to sign with a provider whose terms work best for their unique situation.

Now that you have examined the Direct Primary Care pros and cons, the DPC model is superior to its traditional counterpart. It simplifies an overcomplicated system, benefitting you as well as your patients.

If you are too tired of the status quo, take part in the DPC movement. You can list your practice for free with us to maximize your reach and begin your journey as a DPC provider.

Authored by Harsha Moole, M.D., MBBS

Advocate of healthcare models that promote direct relationship between patients and doctors. Founder @ FindMyDirectDoctor, LLC.

Read more here.