Since Westfield Premier Physicians decided to transition to the new practice with a Direct Care model, we have often been asked, “Why? Why leave your established practice? Why Direct Primary Care? Why fix something that’s not broken?” What my friends and patients may not have realized – our previous method of practicing medicine was absolutely broken.
When I began my career as a family physician, I enjoyed getting to know my patients. I enjoyed hearing about their children, their holiday plans, their latest promotion at work and the list goes on. As the years continued, I found myself trying to exist in a healthcare system that forced me to take time away from my patients and replace it with time spent on billing and filling out forms. Newsweek partially attributed this trend to the “managed-care revolution of the 1980s and ’90s,” when insurance companies began focusing more on the cost of paying doctors, rather than the quality of service provided. This forced doctors to reduce time spent with patients in order to fit more patients into their daily schedule.
By 2016, my partners and I had grown begrudgingly accustomed to each seeing 30-40 patients per day, each at 10-minute intervals. This was barely enough time to properly diagnose illness, let alone exchange pleasantries or develop a long-term wellness plan. A report by The Maine Heritage Policy Center states that “strong doctor-patient relationships—the key to effective primary care and disease prevention—cannot be built during infrequent ten-minute consultations.” We knew that something had to change.
Restoring the Doctor-Patient Relationship
In the last decade, Direct Primary Care has experienced a nationwide surge in popularity. The fundamental principle of DPC is a strong doctor-patient relationship. Now that Westfield Premier Physicians is operating under the DPC model, we are each seeing an average of 10-15 patients each day (versus the previous 30-40/day), which has allowed us to spend more time with our patients. Now that we’re no longer rushing through appointments, we are able to develop long-term wellness plans, monitor existing illnesses and quickly address emerging issues.
In the past, we were forced to focus on reactive care to alleviate symptoms and minor health problems. Within this new model, our patients now have unlimited access to their physician, and we are readily available via telephone, email, and even house calls. There’s no “waiting” in our lobby. More undivided time with your doctor leads to better long-term care and a fabulous patient experience.
Personally, I have converted my exam rooms into consultation rooms so I can interact with my patients face-to-face and give them my undivided attention. Finding a good doctor can be hard, but in today’s world finding a doctor who wants to truly listen is almost impossible.
Patient Savings and Satisfaction
A 2015 analysis by Qliance Medical Management Inc. revealed that the Direct Primary Care model “makes healthcare 20 percent less expensive than traditional health insurance yet leaves patients feeling more satisfied with their care.” By operating on an affordable membership fee that focuses on wellness and prevention, we can reduce the need for specialty and hospital visits and their exorbitant costs by keeping our patients healthier. Additionally, by eliminating third-party insurance claims, we are able to avoid the costs associated with billing and administrative overhead, which ultimately benefits the patient.
I hope you can see why we chose the path we have taken. We are grateful for our patients who decided to come along for the ride – we wouldn’t be here without you. And for anyone who is still undecided about joining our practice, or looking for a primary care physician, we would love the opportunity to demonstrate how DPC has enabled us to become more effective partners in your healthcare journey. We know this is a big change from the way we have always operated, and this is just the beginning of the conversation. I know you’ll have questions along the way, and we welcome any and all questions you may have. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are confident that Direct Primary Care and Westfield Premier Physicians will give you and your loved ones the best that medicine has to offer. Thanks so much.