Traditional healthcare vs. Direct Primary care
Our healthcare model is broken and unsustainable. ‘At the center of this broken system are the insurance companies, set up to make a profit. To accomplish this they have limited benefits, raised premiums and cut pay to physicians. As a consequence, physicians often became more concerned about how to please and cooperate with insurance companies rather than focusing on the care of their patients. In order to make a profit, physicians have to see more patients, which cuts short their office visits, increased waiting times for an appointment, and tends to make medical offices and staff large (and often impersonal) in order to handle the increased volume. When the government got involved, first with Medicare and Medicaid and more recently with the Affordable Care Act, it only got worse. Layers of bureaucracy continue to increase, frustrating both physicians and patients’. Fortunately there is a better way: Direct Primary Care.
Direct primary care (DPC)
Fragmented care. Traditional medical care is often delivered exclusively by multiple specialists. A similar phenomenon, occurs in primary care offices as well, where the patient is often seen by a provider who is not the patient's physician. Frequently a mid-level provider such as a physician assistant or nurse practitioner provides fill-in care. This problem of multiple medical professionals is further compounded after hours and on the weekends when yet another provider sees the patient in an urgent care clinic or the ER.
Longitudinal care. Medical care in DPC is delivered by one doctor in a variety of settings including, but not limited to, the office, home, workplace. This care covers evening, nighttime and weekend hours for urgent and emergent matters. If a medical problem is deemed too complex, the direct primary care physician consults and coordinates care with the appropriate specialist.
Impersonal. Traditional offices tend to be larger, more crowded and often less personal. Larger staff sizes make close professional relationships with patients more difficult.
Personal. DPC practices tend to be quite small, generally limited to around 500 patients (compared to 3000+ in a traditional practice) allowing more personalized care.
Production oriented. In a traditional system, reimbursement to the physician is primarily based on the number of patients seen. Time spent with the provider is therefore often limited, and patients may feel like "just a number."
Patient oriented. In a DPC practice, due to the small size and the direct payment structure, physicians have plenty of time to spend with each patient. This ultimately saves the patient money by reducing unnecessary medications, specialist appointments, ER visits and hospital stays.
Third party interference. Traditional healthcare is dictated by your insurance and/or the government which often modifies care that is provided by the physician. This is frequently not in the best interest of the patient.
Autonomy. Direct primary care practices provide medical care that is not modified or dictated by insurance companies or government entities. Third party interference is a non-issue
Inconvenience. Traditional healthcare is now synonymous with crowded office schedules often limited appointment time options, frequently making waits to see the doctor days to weeks away. The doctor's office is typically the only place to see the provider, with after-hours and weekend care delivered at another location, often involving hours in a crowded waiting room to see yet another provider.
Convenience. DPC provides medical care at a time and place that is most convenient for the patient. Some care can be delivered by webcam, email or phone, saving the patient even more time and money.
Reactionary "sick" care. Traditional offices are typically so crowded and busy that there is little time for wellness visits and preventative counseling, which has been shown in many studies to decrease illness and extend life.
Proactive care. Direct primary care encourages wellness visits due to the nature of the prepaid membership fee. Patients are more apt to seek preventative care since this fee has already been paid, ultimately decreasing unnecessary illness and other medical problems.
Hidden charges. Unlike most businesses, the traditional medical model generally does not publish charges and fees. This is largely due to the third party payer (insurance) system. As a result of this lack of transparency, many patients who pay for treatment out-of-pocket are reluctant to seek medical care.
Price transparency. DPC Membership fees are clearly posted, and there are no hidden charges. This encourages physician-patient interaction on a more regular basis, saving money and promoting health.