New York is saturated with primary care doctors, yet why is it so hard to book an appointment with one on an urgent basis? Traditional Primary Care is exhausting, for both physicians and patients, as well as time-consuming and fruitless.
Physicians face a tough work-life balance, while patients, on the other hand, strive for hours just to get a 15-minute appointment with a tired, frustrated doctor. The cherry on top: are heavy insurance fees and redundant copays and deductibles after each ‘fortunate’ consultation with a primary care practitioner.
But, will there ever be a solution for this broken physician-patient-insurer relationship? There already is. We call it Direct Primary Care; physicians and patients might refer to it as a lifesaver.
What is Direct Primary Care?
The Direct Primary Care business model arose as an alternative to traditional primary care with subscription-based payment plans vowing to reform the way classic primary care works. Traditional primary care is hectic – and completely defies the concept of preventive healthcare due to lengthy gaps between physician appointments and unsatisfactory consultations.
In primary care, patients suffer the consequences of delayed appointments with doctors, leading to late diagnoses with little room for a cure. In primary care, physicians too, suffer from burnout due to an overwhelming patient load which affects their quality of practice, and hence, their mental and physical well-being.
But, should we put all the blame on doctors for lacking in providing basic preventive healthcare?
Another evil that contributes to the declining rate and quality of healthcare – and is quite worthy of taking most of the blame – is insurance. Insurance brokers tend to render you bankrupt by making you invest in fee-for-service premiums which vary and increase as per demand.
Instead, insurance plans are put in place to help take the load off your shoulders in emergencies, hospitalizations, and surgical procedures; not to leave your bank account dry after every visit to your GP.
Considerations for Starting a DPC Practice
As a newly board-certified family medicine physician, establishing a primary care practice in a busy and bustling city such as New York can be a bit tougher than expected. The competition is fierce, and real estate tends to be pricey.
But, let’s suppose that you do succeed in opening a primary care practice – then what? If the patient load doesn’t kill you first, it will probably kill your chances of serving quality care to your patients, causing them to change insurance plans and head to another primary care practice.
If you are just starting out or thinking of switching to the DPC model, there are a few things you should consider before jumping on the bandwagon:
Be Treatwise With Your Investments and Savings:
Outline your budget keeping the requirements of opening a DPC practice in mind. After you do so, get in touch with a good real estate agent within the vicinity of the area where you plan on opening a practice. Or, you can do some legwork from scratch and research the places where you can establish a DPC practice and still bring in patients.
Hiring Adequate Staff
Apart from holding an office, you need experienced staff such as a receptionist, nurses, and technicians to help you grow your practice. Your office will also be incomplete without a working administration office, which is by far, the primary lead in bringing profit to the table.
Recruiting can be tough, especially for someone who has no connections and is poor at networking. But, there are always professional recruiters and businesses that can help you staff your office with professional personnel.
Define your Pricing
DPC is different from traditional primary care practices, in a way that you don’t have any intermediary insurance company interfering with your practice. With no insurance company on board, you can define your own subscription plans and establish reasonable pricing for the services you provide.
DPC practices usually offer subscription plans which vary from person to person based mostly on patient demographics and age. DPC practices also offer family subscription plans which might come in handy for families to get discounts without altering the quality of services.
Establish a sustainable panel of patients as per your comfort, for instance, around 300 – 500 to attend to per month. As you expand and hire more physicians in your DPC practice, you can increase the panel of patients depending on the doctor’s availability.
Your DPC subscription plans need to bring in a dignified margin of profit so that you can stick to your oath of providing quality healthcare to patients and foresee a good future for your practice.
Hire an Experienced Lawyer
Get acquainted with a lawyer who specializes in DPC core policies and managing legal affairs of DPC practices. You also need to have a malpractice insurance plan to defend your practice and staff against threatening lawsuits.
DPC Benefits for Providers
Limited Patient Panel and Quality of Care
As mentioned earlier, DPC practices give physicians the leverage to treat patients at their own pace. With a sustainable pricing model and a limited patient panel in business, physicians are able to attract and treat patients who aim to develop a stronger interpersonal relationship with their doctor.
Providing quality care to a limited number of patients day after day is ideal for preventing physician burnout. Not only does DPC help in the prevention of illnesses, but also promotes a healthy work-life balance for the provider.
No Administrative Headaches
As there is no involved insurance company in place to handle the administrative end of the business, physicians can save overhead costs that would be spent on hiring staff for managing and interacting with insurance companies.
DPC Benefits for Patients
No Heavy Premiums or Co-pays
In DPC practice, patients get to pay a fixed subscription fee monthly for services inclusive of extensive consultation visits, lab and imaging services, and easy refills of specific medications. DPC also provides patients with the satisfaction of investing in a foolproof and sound primary care practice that has no hidden overhead costs or sneaky deductibles and extensive co-pays.
Intimate Relationship with Physician
With DPC, patients will no longer complain of physician inattentiveness, limited consultation times, and tedious waiting times just for a simple follow-up or a condition that is likely to worsen in the near future. Plus, with DPC, patients have complete access to their primary care doctor and can either book a visit on the same or the following day, or even consult via online chatting messengers directly.
DPC Benefits for Employers
Fixed and Cost-Effective DPC Subscription Plan
Insurance companies can cost an arm and a leg to employers who are either initiating a start-up or facing financial discrepancies due to inflation. DPC can allow employers to choose a fixed subscription plan for their employees so that they can foresee expenditures pre-hand and have nothing to worry about skyrocketing premiums.
Loyalty and Productivity of Employees
Direct Primary Care practice allows employees to book urgent visits with their physician for attentive and immediate provision of care. This not only urges employees to take fewer leaves away from work and improve productivity but also helps employers to gain their staff’s loyalty.
The Final Verdict
Instead of considering DPC as a primary care model, think of it as a preventive care model which is accessible to a fixed panel of patients. Not only does DPC reap benefits for both physicians and patients, but it also helps employers gain leverage over their competition and promote a healthier workforce.
By the time you luck out to book necessary follow-up visits with your primary care doctor, you realize you are already hanging on by a loose thread – your condition takes a toll on you resulting in hospitalization for immediate care.
– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any symptoms or medical advice, please consult with your preventive care physician, call 911, or Book an appointment with our board-certified doctors at Manhattan Medical Arts.
If you want to learn more about Primary Direct Care then read these blog posts: Why choose membership-based Direct Primary Care? | Direct Primary Care: solving health insurance affordability issues | Here’s why DPC Healthcare Services should be your first choice | Understanding Direct Primary Care: Overview Of DPC Practice