Thousands of physicians nationwide have opened an innovative independent doctor’s office over the past decade with a practice model called direct primary care (DPC). Popularly billed as “concierge care at blue-collar prices”, it is a practice model based around membership akin to joining a gym.
The model has to varying degrees of success transcended demographics, culture and the economic status of communities across the country from rural to suburban and urban settings.
Touted as the answer to physician burnout and fatigue with corporatized medicine, DPC is an insurance free model where patients pay anywhere from $50-$125 a month for membership. The flat fee offers virtually daily access to “all a local primary care physician has to offer” – resurrecting a throwback to the town doctor of yesterday highlighting sick visits, checkups, and even wellness training for patients.
Independent physicians hang a shingle in their community striving to build a patient panel of 400 to 600 members. The economics are straightforward. Just 200 patients subscribing for $75 a month generates $180,000 a year in gross revenue. By opting out of insurance and the reimbursement model, private practice overhead plummets by 30% to 50%.
“DPC frees you to be the doctor you dreamed of when your idealism was in full bloom entering medical school. Two decades later, I know every patient intimately, maintain continuity of care over the years, and I get to be the doctor I was made to be.” Lee Gross, MD is the president of the non-profit Docs 4 Patient Care Foundation that sponsors CME conferences training physicians on the nuts and bolts of launching a direct primary care practice.
The downside is the need to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in establishing a practice. Long time practitioners note the path has been well tread with a decade of physicians perfecting the model. hundreds of hours of online training and several conferences networking physicians that reflect almost a missionary zeal in promoting DPC.
Executive Director of the Docs 4 Patient Care Foundation Bob Jacobus muses “we’ve become known as the happiest CME on earth”.
The practice benefits for physicians quickly become clear as removal of third-party payers allow for the non-reimbursement based exercise of the doctors clinical judgment, reducing the need for bureaucrat based referral systems, and the end of meaningless or unrelated data collection.
“Numerous organizations have raised the alarm regarding a national doctor shortage. Combine that with the vast majority of physicians discouraging the next generation from entering primary care, DPC has shown itself to not only be a viable model but addresses the root causes of Physician burnout while improving patient experience and outcomes.“ Texas based surgeon Ori Hampel, MD noted in expressing his support for direct primary care as a board member of the Docs 4 Patient Care Foundation.