Direct primary care (DPC) is catching on with many family medicine physicians extolling its virtues. The key benefit of this relatively new paradigm is that it maximizes health care value. As a medical transcription service provider with years of experience, we know how important it is for the physician to focus on the patient during the consultation. The DPC model permits this. It allows physicians to spend more time with their patients, provide higher quality of care than under the traditional model and enjoy greater professional satisfaction. Patients across the U.S. are experiencing better access and lower costs using direct primary care.
DPC is a departure from the fee-for-service approach, which is on its way out. In this “alternative” practice model, physicians do not take insurance but instead charge patients a monthly fee-usually in the range of $25 to $125- which covers the primary care they need.
A recent article in Medical Economics reports the cofounder and head of a large DPC network as saying, “What is motivating physicians to convert is primarily a desire to be able to spend more time with patients.”
The benefits of the DPC model for physicians and patients are:
- DPC reduces the complexity of running a practice. It minimizes the paper work and regulatory burdens associated with billing insurance and frees up physician to focus on patient care.
- Physicians can build meaningful relationships with their patients, which leading delivery of improved care.
- Patients need pay only a monthly membership fee which will generally cover everything from office visits to basic lab tests.
- The monthly fees are affordable because DPC practices have low overhead expenses since they do not accept insurance.
- Patients have access to around-the-clock primary health care and can call or email their doctor any time.
- Patients can schedule same-day appointments and longer office visits with their doctors as needed.
- Physicians have better control over their schedule – while in the traditional fee-for-service model, a physician would have to see a patient every 15 minutes, in the DPC model, they may be able to allot as much as 45 minutes for each patient visit.
- Another significant benefit of DPC is its lack of bureaucracy – there is a far less need for office staff and other resources. Staff would be needed only for getting insurance authorizations, referrals, or disability papers, and managing accounts.
- The DPC model helps chronically ill patients manage their complex health care needs more effectively.
- Physicians may make house calls available on a case-by-case basis with an additional charge based on location.
- Experts say the DPC model could be useful to deal with explosive Medicaid costs and improve health care access for Medicaid patients.
- DPC addresses the problem of physician burnout in primary care.
With the right technology and expert family practice medical transcription services, primary care physicians can streamline their work even further. However, the direct primary care model is not without challenges. Fixing the retainer fee is one problem, with many physicians fearing that some patients may not be able to afford paying the subscription fee, which could spark a negative reaction in other patients. Further, handling referrals could also be challenging.
The American Academy of Family Physicians supports direct-pay primary care for the many benefits it offers patients and physicians. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the federal government’s new health care plan calls for expanding the presence of DPC by expanding the use of health savings accounts (HSAs). The proposal is to allow patients to pay their DPC membership fees out of their HSA.