This is one of the more common questions we get from patients wondering why they’d pay a monthly fee to join our practice. Many patients “only go to the doctor once a year for a physical,” or “aren’t on any medications.” Others cannot fathom paying for primary care on a monthly basis when they are used to the slow, inefficient traditional primary care practices that are impossible to get in contact with.
However, we have many of these patients in our practice. They come to realize that direct primary care practices like Direct Doctors are beneficial for many reasons, even for generally healthy patients. For one thing, many patients realize that they probably use a physician more than they think. Whether it’s an urgent care visit for a sore throat, an ER visit for stitches, or just a simple medical question that required an in person visit at a traditional practice, patients often underestimate the amount they use the medical system, or would use it with a better overall experience. All of these can be handled at our practice, at no charge on top of the monthly fee, in a patient friendly and efficient manner. And that ER visit for a simple laceration repair most likely costs more than a year of membership to our practice.
There’s also something to be said for having a doctor who actually knows a patient well!
Because we limit the amount of patients in our panel and are in contact with our patients much more than traditional practices, we get to know our patients very well. This affords us the opportunity to provide better recommendations on screening and treatment options along with understanding how things outside of typical medical problems are affecting one’s health. We have the time(!) to, and interest in, reviewing the pros and cons of different treatment plans and helping patients navigate any major issues. Although there aren’t a ton of screening exams needed in the younger population, we know that proactive (as opposed to reactive) medicine is much better in the long run both in terms of patient outcomes and cost. Primary care should ideally be used to keep people healthy and prevent any catastrophic issues from coming up in the future. The time our practice affords patients with their physician (not nurse or PA!), and the fact that we are so accessible to our patients makes this much easier.
So while we understand that healthy patients probably do not utilize, or even avoid, the traditional medical system, our patients love the direct primary care model and all that it allows them to do… for less than the cost of a coffee a day.
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.