Patients who join Direct Primary Care practices, like Direct Doctors, often express wonderment at how we are able to spend more time with our patients, never make them feel rushed, never make them wait, and get back to them quickly with answers to their questions. Here’s how we make this happen and why your typical primary care office cannot.
At Direct Primary Care practices across the country, doctors are breaking down the traditional barriers that are put up between patient and doctor. At Direct Doctors, while we are not concierge, our business model is simple. Patients pay a monthly fee directly to their doctor. The doctor pays overhead expenses to run the practice and then pays him/herself the rest. In this model, patients pay doctors directly and doctors can cut out the multitude of middlemen skimming off the top while expertly blocking access to your doctor ;).
As everyone knows, the cost of medical care continues to rise (except at Direct Primary Care practices!). A major portion of patient expenses often come from prescription medications. Consumer reports recently published an article highlighting this very thing. There are many reasons for the increasing drug costs (excessive markups, physician unawareness of pricing, cost shifting from employers to patients, etc), but at Direct Doctors we pay special attention to this part of our patients finances.
At Direct Doctors, like many other Direct Primary Care practices around the country, we work hard to make ourselves accessible to our patients. While we can’t guarantee 24/7 access, we do ensure our patients can reach us on our cell phones, can text us, and can even email us when they need to ask a question or run something by us - and by us, I mean one of the doctors! We also make sure patients can be seen when it is convenient for them and not 3 months from now.
A common question from our patients in their 60s and up is, “How could your practice at Direct Doctors actually make sense with my medicare?” It is a smart question. It’s important to understand how medicare works when you have a doctor, like Dr. Turshen or Dr. Hedde, who does not bill medicare (aka a doctor who is “opted out” of medicare).
At Direct Doctors, patients in the age group of 65 and above will pay a membership fee of $100 per month to have convenient access to their physician. They will be able to reach their primary care doctor when and how it works for them. They will avoid long wait times at the office or on the phone. And, they will have a meaningful relationship with a doctor who knows them well and spends the needed time listening to their needs.
It’s that time of year again! No I’m not referring to pumpkins, leaves changing color, cool weather or football. It’s time to renew or change your health insurance plan. Open enrollment on the health exchanges start November 1, 2018 (and ends December 15th). Whether you purchase your insurance through the state, government, employer or directly from the vendors, this can be a daunting process. There are often many choices, with slight differences that are difficult to decipher. Beyond that, because price transparency is such an issue in healthcare, it is often hard to plan or budget for future costs when there is no way to find out how much these services actually cost! Below, I’ve tried to outline a couple tips while going through this process.
Last year we visited the Smith Family, a typical working family of three looking to reduce their healthcare expenses through a membership with our Direct Primary Care practice, Direct Doctors. We looked at how they were able to save $1350 during their first year as members of Direct Doctors just by switching to a higher-deductible, lower-premium health insurance and joining the practice for their primary care.
Have you ever gone to your primary care doctor hoping you could get some helpful advice on weight loss or changing the way you eat, only to feel rushed through the office and out the door quickly? Have you ever considered paying for a program like Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem or one of the “Medical” weight loss clinics only to realize they can be quite expensive? What if you could get the help you needed without any additional expenses beyond seeing your PCP?
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force gives a “B” rating (“recommends”) to “Diet & Physical Activity Counseling for patients with Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors” - meaning, it is recommended to “refer adults who are overweight or obese...for intensive behavioral counseling interventions to promote a healthful diet and physical activity for CVD prevention.” They give a “C” rating (“recommended for some”) regarding “behavioral counseling for adults without obesity who do not have known cardiovascular disease risk.”
We hope over the past few years we’ve made a good case about why Direct Primary Care practices like Direct Doctors are good for patients. But, we felt it worth mentioning...DPC is great for Docs too!
If you’re a patient looking for a doctor, you may say, “Why do I care if this is better for doctors?” Well, you should care and I will explain why! Do you know that nearly 50% of primary care physicians are experiencing “burnout” - meaning they feel overwhelmed, overworked, or underappreciated in their jobs? What does burnout lead to? It means your doctor might be retiring early, his care might be sub-par, or he might be cutting back on his hours.
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.