It is a painful reality: many family medicine doctors have seemingly lost their patient advocacy. While this has been a major industry problem for about a decade now and may not be anything new to you, what may actually surprise patients is that the loss of patient advocacy isn’t always out of a doctor’s own volition.
The traditional fee-for-service model, where insurance companies continue to play the upper hand, has put a significant strain on the relationship between family medicine doctor and their patients.
Everyone should have health insurance? I say everyone should have health care. I'm not selling insurance. ― Dennis Kucinich
In recent years, insurance companies are notorious for being more corporate-centered, acting out of their company’s best interests and shortchanging both doctor and patient in the process.
This has caused frustration from both ends of the spectrum and has inspired a brood of family medicine doctors to initiate a revolution of sorts within the industry – the birth of a new, more patient-centered health care model called Direct Primary Care (DPC) and Concierge Medicine.
If you’ve gone to your local family practice center for an appointment recently, it is so apparent that patients are no longer at the core of our current health care model. Rushed, robotic appointments, hours wasted waiting for your turn, the most tedious procedures just to set an appointment – these are all clear signs of misplaced patient advocacy.
Michael Tetreault, editor and conference host of Concierge Medicine Today and The Direct Primary Care Journal, says, “America’s best places to work never includes a doctor’s office. Inside traditional medicine, patients expect to wait. They expect insurance to cover their visit and when it’s not? They are prepared to fight.
Health care consumers today expect disengaged staff and an overall unpleasant visit at their family medicine doctor’s office.” He perfectly sums up a regular, stressful patient experience at a family practice center nowadays.
All of these unpleasant experiences are due to the fact that most family practice centers are now more focused on corporate matters rather than their patients’ well-being.
Many family practice doctors in the traditional health care model are so frustrated by this because of two reasons: first, they are overworked and underpaid, and second, they feel that they are not able to give what their patients are due.
In a study done by CompHealth, the major reasons listed by doctors for seeking a new job position or health care facility are “Inadequate compensation (50%)” or “Poor management (45%)”.
This is why a new and improved health care model has begun to make waves. Imagine this: by simply subscribing to a monthly fee (say, like Spotify or Netflix), the Direct Primary Care and Concierge Medicine model gives patients direct access to their family medicine doctor and provides them with exceptional, first-class health care services and discounted outpatient services, without the intervention of any middleman or third party.
In order to understand the Direct Primary Care and Concierge Medicine model better, we must first recognize why it had to be born in the first place and what it’s able to address which the traditional health care model does not.
In a recent Health Care Consumer Trust Survey conducted by Bright.MD, Dr. Ray Constantini, M.D., CEO and co-founder, reveals that a strong connection between patient and physician is still something that is highly valued. In fact, based on the survey, only one in four patients trust their insurance companies to provide their health care.
Consequently, another study regarding patient satisfaction, which was conducted by Concierge Medicine Today, reveals telling information: painfully mediocre results. When asked how well they like their doctor (i.e. their family practice doctor’s likeability or pleasantness), 30% of the respondents answered “Just okay” while 20% answered, “I’d rather choose someone else”.
It is important to recognize that these pain points lay down the groundwork for a new and improved health care model which patients truly deserve.
1. Patients are only given 5-10 minutes tops with their family medicine doctor. Appointments are normally rushed and robotic.
“Take this, do that. Next.” Are you used to your family practice doctor sounding this way? Are you fed up with routine care appointments that are devoid of warmth, connection, and genuine care? Trust us, you’re not the only one.
This is proven to be one of the major pain points among patients – unpleasant family practice center appointments that do not make them feel attended to or cared for.
2. Patients are usually passed on from one physician to another, thus wasting a lot of time, money, and effort.
As you may have noticed by now, it is common practice for a family medicine doctor to pass you on from one physician to another or to require you to undergo multiple tests and procedures to “rule out” certain illnesses (which might be necessary for some circumstances).
If this has always left you wondering why this is necessary, it is because family practice doctors wish to rid themselves of the risk of liability.
Because they have such limited time with you, they would rather pass you on to another physician to finish the job or rely on multiple tests (that cost a lot more than they should, mind you) to diagnose your condition instead of taking the time to work through it themselves.
3. Patients have to go through such taxing and time-consuming procedures just to see their family practice doctor.
Because patients do not have direct access to their family medicine doctor, they always have to go through time-consuming front desk calls or tedious booking procedures just to schedule an appointment at their local family practice center.
Originally designed to bridge the gap between doctor and patient, front desks, hotline numbers, and booking procedures have done nothing but make the experience more frustrating for patients.
4. Patients feel like they are just another number in their family medicine doctor’s office.
The more patients a family practice doctor sees, the less time they have for each patient. Overbooked appointments and unnecessary paperwork have affected the quality of the practice of many physicians, robbing them of the privilege to share a personal connection with their patients.
If there’s anything this new model of health care provides that traditional medicine does not, it is time. Dr. Tiffany Blythe, a Direct Primary Care physician from Kansas, Missouri, expresses, “What everyone really needs to know is that patients do get better care when their doctor is more satisfied with what they’re doing. And that takes time. That is what the [fee-for-service] system cannot provide us, is time with the patient.”
In contrast to the traditional fee-for-service system, patients get unrestricted 24/7 access to their family medicine doctor. Instead of paying a copay fee for appointments wherein patients are religiously shortchanged, patients subscribe to a monthly fee that entitles them to all the time and service they deserve from their family medicine doctor – that includes unlimited visits and access to their physician’s direct line.
Although you will still have to retain your insurance premiums for hospitalization expenses and other in-patient services, the benefits of Direct Primary Care outweigh the cost. Patients are guaranteed their family medicine doctor’s undivided time and attention for a monthly fee which only costs as much as a couple of dinners out.
For Direct Primary Care physicians such as Dr. Matthew Abinante, patients pay an average of $75 each month – this includes meticulous, comprehensive routine check-ups; round-the-clock, superior service (home visits, if needed); virtual consultations via call, text, email or video chat; same-day appointments; and discounted rates on out-patient lab and medical procedures.
According to the Direct Primary Care Coalition (DPCC), “In the past decade alone, the Direct Primary Care/Concierge Medicine model has grown from 21 practices to over 1,000 practices in 49 states that care for approximately 500,000 patients.”Efforts are also underway to further enhance this new health care model.
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) supports the new health care model and has urged Congress to approve iterations to the DPC model, which will include providing diagnostic services and dispensing prescription drugs.
1. You get direct, unrestricted access to your family medicine doctor.
You can expect your family care physician to be available whenever you need them, may it be via teleconsultations, last-minute appointments, or house visits. You no longer have to waste time on long queues, tiresome front desk calls, complicated booking procedures, or going straight to voice meal.
2. You are provided with the privilege of long-term savings.
Sure, you still have to retain your insurance premiums on top of your Direct Primary Care/ Concierge Medicine subscriptions, but the long-term financial benefits surely outweigh the minimal cost. You get to save in the long term by reducing your insurance premiums to coverage of in-patient and hospitalization charges only.
The Direct patient care system also provides patients with discounted out-patient medical services, especially those that are not covered by your insurance premiums.
A perfect example: a Complete Blood Count (CBC) test might cost $50-$60 at a hospital whereas it may only cost you $1-$2 in a Direct Primary Care clinic.
3. Direct Primary Care and Concierge Medicine physicians have enough time to properly diagnose your health conditions and be thorough about your well-being.
With this new health care model, rushed, robotic appointments and getting passed on from one physician to another are things of the past. DPC physicians are not weighed down by overbooked appointments and unreasonable amounts of paperwork, giving them more time for early disease diagnosis and in-depth medical assessment. That way, patients are also able to save on cost, time, and effort by not having to undergo unnecessary tests and consultations.
It’s also great to see an age-old industry catch up with the times – the Direct Primary Care and Concierge Medicine systems make the most of technology to keep in touch with their patients and really make them feel that they are there for them 24/7. When electronic communication is factored in, routine appointments can be conducted in a very consistent, thorough manner.
Dr. Abinante is in touch with about 20 patients daily, both online and offline, compared to traditional physicians who see at least 30 patients per day. He says, “I know all my patients by name. I have time for them.”
4. There is a tighter, more specialized connection between doctor and patient.
Direct Primary Care and Concierge Medicine physicians offer first-class health care services, as they should be. A study conducted by the Direct Primary Care Journal reveals that patients are fed up with being just another number in their family practice doctor’s office.
When prospective patients seeking health care from Direct Primary Care clinics were asked to rank ‘Cost’, ‘Convenience’, and ‘Doctor-Patient Friendship’ based on personal priority, results reveal that 7.3 out of 10 patients chose ‘Doctor-Patient Friendship’ as their number one concern. Patients truly prefer physicians they can get to know, like, and trust.
As you can see, the Direct Primary Care and Concierge Medicine model is taking the health care industry by storm – and for good reason. Patients are provided with better health care, one that has their best interests in mind and will put their well-being first above anything else.
This is what FindMyDirectDoctor.com stands for. Our life’s work is to improve the health and well-being of patients. We are achieving this by doing well on two very important things:
Join the movement for better health care and see a Direct Care physician near you today.