Direct Primary Care and Concierge Medicine

A Family Practice Doctor is the Best Choice for Patients

September 22, 2020

Harsha Moole, M.D., MBBS

Why Do You Need a Family Practice Doctor?

Why is a DPC or Concierge Medicine Family Practice Doctor the Best Choice for Patients? Anyone who has lived in the United States is testament to the fact that the current health care system has anything but a patient’s best interests at heart.

Almost everyone has their own health care horror story. If you personally don’t have one, we all know someone who does.

Seeing modern health care from the other side, I can say that it is clearly not set up for the patient. It is frequently a poor arrangement for doctors as well, but that does not mitigate how little the system accounts for the patient's best interest. Just when you are at your weakest and least able to make all the phone calls, traverse the maze of insurance, and plead for health care referrals is that one time when you have to – your life may depend on it. ― Ross Donaldson

Introduction | The Pursuit of Better Health Care Led by Family Practice Doctors

The lack of care in the US health care system may just be one of the most ironic, long-playing problems the country has to deal with. Traditional family practice centers and insurance companies are notorious for prioritizing corporate affairs over their patient’s well-being.

As you can so clearly see with its exorbitant prices, overbooked physicians, frustrating booking procedures, and robotic family practice center appointments.

Dr. Joseph Sheppard, a Direct Primary Care physician who opened his own practice in Neosho, Missouri in 2014, shares, “It’s this whole machine that we’ve built in the U.S.—in which physicians must bill multiple third-party payers for reimbursement—that has made primary care so expensive.”

Did you know that in comparison to other high-income countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, the US spends the most on health care but has the worst health outcomes?

A recent analysis done by Commonwealth Fund reveals that in the US, private health care spending is at its highest compared to all the other aforementioned countries – this pertains to voluntary spending on private health insurance premiums, including employer-sponsored health insurance coverage.

According to Commonwealth Fund, “The average U.S. resident paid $1,122 out-of-pocket for health care, which includes expenses like copayments for family practice doctor’s visits and prescription drugs or health insurance deductibles. Residents of France and New Zealand pay less than half of what Americans spend.”

Absurdly, in spite of all the dollars spent on health care, Americans experience the worst health outcomes compared to all the other countries that are part of the high-income roster.

For example, the US has a 50% higher rate of hospitalization (compared to the roster average) from ambulatory care conditions such as diabetes and hypertension – these are sensitive conditions which are considered preventable with access to better primary care.

Premature deaths from said ambulatory care conditions are also at an all-time high in the US among all 11 countries, with 112 deaths for every 100,000 patients. “This poor performance suggests the U.S. has worse access to primary care, prevention, and chronic disease management compared to peer nations”, Commonwealth Fund narrates.

Believe it or not, it’s not just patients who are fed up with the system – even family practice doctors are, too. Grounded upon the belief that doctors and patients alike deserve more from the system, a new and improved health care model has sprung.

By simply subscribing to a monthly fee (similar to your Netflix subscription), family medicine doctors in the Direct Primary Care (DPC) and Concierge Family Medicine practice are now able to provide direct access and first-class service to their patients.

Family Practice Doctor

How This Family Practice Doctor Type Works?

As a response to all the subpar experiences felt by both family practice doctors and patients in the traditional health care system, the Direct Primary Care or Concierge Family Medicine practice provides a more direct, meaningful relationship between doctor and patient.

What’s great about this new health care model is that it eliminates middlemen, such as insurance companies and other health care third parties. The result? Unrestricted access to family medicine doctors, discounted outpatient services, and a renewed sense of patient advocacy, as it should be.

Carolyn Long Engelhard, MPA, who directs the health policy program at the University of Virginia - School of Medicine in Charlotesville, believes that, “Better access to their family medicine doctor gives patients peace of mind, it can be therapeutic, and it can lead to a relationship of greater trust.”

Instead of having to pay for a copay fee for appointments where you are constantly shortchanged, the Direct Primary Care or Concierge Family Medicine practice entitles patients to unprecedented access to their family practice doctors – unlimited visits, 24/7 access to their direct line, and round-the-clock premium care.

Even though you will still have to retain your insurance premiums for hospitalization expenses and other in-patient services, the Direct Primary Care or Concierge Family Medicine model covers everything else with regard to routine primary care.

Monthly membership fees cost as much as a couple dinners out only and the invaluable benefits you get in return far outweigh the cost. Dr. Todd Rice, MD, MBA, an anesthesiologist and creator at the Graduate Medical Education Compliance Project, explains that the Direct Primary Care subscription pays for itself in many forms of savings and benefit, such as discounted lab work costs, transparent upfront pricing, and the freedom to reduce your insurance plan payables.

He says, “I believe DPC to be economically superior to the current third-party payer model of medical practice. This is especially true for primary care and non-emergent outpatient medical services – which are arguably the majority of the demand in health care.”

Two Types of Family Practice Doctors

Key Differences Between a Direct Care Doctor vs. a Traditional Family Practice Doctor

1. Traditional family medicine doctors see about 2,000-3,000 patients. Direct Primary Care or Concierge Medicine Family Practice Physicians see 200-800 patients only.

2. The traditional health care model allows family practice doctors about 5-10 minutes to see each patient, thus resulting to rushed, robotic appointments. In the Direct Primary Care or Concierge Family Medicine system, patients are entitled to 30-60 minutes with their family medicine doctor.

3. Booking an appointment at your local family practice center is a huge ordeal. Tedious booking procedures, time-consuming front desk calls, being sent straight to voice mail – these are experiences that are all too familiar when dealing with family practice doctor.

With the Direct Primary Care or Concierge Family Medicine model, you get unrestricted access to your family practice doctor’s direct line. This means you can get in touch with them anytime for teleconsultations, same-day appointments, and online follow-ups.

4. There is a tendency for family practice doctors in the traditional health care model to act out of their insurance company’s or corporate hospital’s best interests, rather than their patient’s well-being.

They are tasked to make decisions which will put their insurance companies or corporate hospitals in a financially better position, hence the overbooked, rushed appointments and the game of pass-the-patient from one specialist to another.

In the Direct Primary Care or Concierge Medicine set-up, there is no middleman so family medicine doctors are focused on nothing else but their patients. Healing their patients is the one and only goal.

5. Family practice centers who are in the traditional insurance based, fee-for-service practice tend to pass patients from one physician to another to rid family practice doctors of the risk of liability.

In contrast, Direct Primary Care or Concierge Family Medicine physicians have all the time they need to sit down and genuinely assess their patient’s health conditions.

6. Traditional family practice doctors are limited to clinic appointments only. Direct Primary Care or Concierge Medicine Family Practice Physicians are at your service and on-call for home visits, especially when you’re sick.

7. Traditional family medicine doctors have seemingly lost their patient advocacy due to the fact that they are generally overworked. They are bogged down by overbooked appointments and tons of paperwork, leaving no time to sincerely get to know their patients.

Family practice doctors in the Direct Primary Care or Concierge Family Medicine model, on the other hand, are able to spend more time with their patients, developing a layer of trust and deeper understanding of their patients.

You Deserve a First-Class Family Practice Doctor

The Benefits of Having a DPC or Concierge Family Practice Doctor

1. You no longer have to endure long queues or tiresome booking procedures at your local family practice center.

Unlike the traditional, fee-for-service model where patients have to call in at least a day in advance, suffer through the most taxing booking procedures, only to wait in line for a rushed, unfeeling appointment with their family practice doctor, the Direct Primary Care and Concierge Family Medicine system keeps your family medicine doctor within arm’s reach – that means quick tele-consultations, same-day appointments, house visits, you name it.

2. Your constant copay fees for mediocre services are no more. Earn long-term savings and other financial benefits with Direct Primary Care and Concierge Family Medicine.

Transparent, upfront pricing is a major thrust of Direct Primary Care and Concierge Family Medicine. Your monthly membership fee covers everything you need for high-quality routine care, including unlimited office visits, family discounts, and other awesome benefits.

Dr. Sheppard charges patients $60 a month per adult and $25 per child. He explains, “That covers all of their office visits and access to me by phone at night and on weekends. I make sure to return calls promptly no matter what I’m doing.”

Dr. Chris Larson, another Direct Primary Care physician who started his own solo practice in 2014, shares, “When someone pays you directly and you cut out insurance, you get back to the heart of the physician-patient relationship.” No third parties, a lean, mean team – this means that patients can expect no kickbacks. They get lab expenses and other special services at wholesale cost.

In addition, Direct Primary Care physicians usually have a comprehensive referral list of physicians who offer affordable cash rates for when their patients need more specialized care on complex issues or advanced diseases.

Sure, you will still have to retain your insurance premiums but the long-term financial savings you get from your Direct Primary Care subscription truly make it worthwhile. Another major perk: now you can finally reduce your insurance plans to hospitalization expenses and catastrophic health care coverage. Goodbye copay fees and overpriced in-patient services!

3. You no longer have to deal with rushed appointments and getting passed on from one specialist to another.

A key benefit you should be aware of when it comes to the Direct Primary Care or Concierge Family Medicine practice is that your family practice doctors are willing and able to sit down with you and actually understand what you are going through health-wise.

This is one of the underlying reasons why a new health care model was born in the first place: patients are fed up with feeling like they are not attended to and cared for while family medicine doctors, on the other hand, are frustrated for not being able to give what they patients deserve.

The value of time between doctor and patient also addresses a major pain point among patients. More time with patients reduces referrals to more expensive specialists, saving patients from wasting their time, money, and effort.

4. You are not just a number waiting to be called at your family practice doctor’s office.

When the primary players of the industry are getting the short ends of the stick for so long, that’s when you know it’s time for an industry haul. The doctor-patient relationship, which should have been the core of the industry, has been compromised for many years.

The Direct Primary Care or Concierge Family Medicine practice is committed to achieving patient satisfaction above all by laying the groundwork for a more sincere, tight-knit connection between family practice doctor’s and their patients.

Per Dr. Rice, he believes that “DPC may also be superior from inter-personal, personal satisfaction, and humanistic aspects as the rushed, frustrating (for doctor and patient), insurance-restricted, 10-minute visit is replaced with greater availability, depth, flexibility, frequency and duration of interactions.”

Having a Family Practice Doctor in a Nutshell

Summary:

More and more patients are beginning to see the immense benefits of Direct Primary Care or Concierge Family Medicine, and you should too.

According to Wharton (2018), there are approximately 465,000 primary care physicians, out of which are approximately 20,000 physicians who practice some sort of DPC. Experts expect the DPC practice to grow at a fairly rapid pace in the next decade or so.

In the long term, the Direct Primary Care or Concierge Family Medicine model is also expected to include diagnostic service provisions and prescription drug dispensation.

Family practice doctors of the new age have great confidence in the Direct Primary Care or Concierge Family Medicine model because it has both doctor and patient’s best interests at its core.

Dr. Larson puts it into words so perfectly – “This is the revolution that we need in primary care for reducing healthcare expenditures, for having happier and healthier patients and, honestly, for having happier primary care physicians.”

FindMyDirectDoctor.com offers a comprehensive list of Direct Primary Care physicians within your area. Join the movement for better health care and see a Direct Primary Care physician near you today.

Authored by Harsha Moole, M.D., MBBS

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

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