The direct primary care (DPC) model for a physician’s practice continues to be misunderstood, even though the number of DPC practices continues to increase. Among patients and potential patients, a number of myths continue to be circulated despite the popularity of the DPC model. Several myths also permeate the healthcare industry itself.
Myth: As independent physicians continue to move to the DPC model, which typically results in a reduced patient panel size, the primary care physician shortage will worsen.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) addresses this myth by pointing out that physician burnout more typically contributes to the physician shortage situation. Physicians who are only able to spend a few minutes with each patient, because they have so many patients to see in a day, become stressed and worn out. The DPC structure enables physicians to spend more time with each patient, which increases patient engagement and decreases provider burnout.
Myth: It’s too good to be true. There must be hidden costs for the patient.
The financial structure of a DPC enables independent physicians to provide quality care for their patients at a reduced cost. There are no co-pays or per-visit fees, so there is less involved in managing the practice’s administrative tasks. Most DPCs do not take insurance either, so the burden of billing and waiting for approval and reimbursement is eliminated. The patient’s membership fee covers all basic services and many additional lab tests and procedures.
Myth: The physician will not be available to the patient as much as in a traditional practice.
Twine Health comments upon and addresses this baffling myth. The fact is, independent physicians in a DPC model practice spend much more time with each patient. Communication is enhanced during longer patient visits and in follow-up availability. Patients are encouraged to contact their provider with questions and concerns in between visits as well.
The DPC model has been around for a number of years, yet the myths continue primarily because of a unique structure that is not dependent on insurance company approval or reimbursement. A practice in which the primary care provider has significantly more time to spend with patient and that does not collect payments at each visit may well be too good to believe for some patients – and even some providers!