Direct primary care mapper: How many DPC practices are in the US today? July 25, 2022
Although the direct primary care (DPC) model of healthcare delivery is relatively new, the number of DPC practices is growing significantly in the US. Just over a decade old, DPC practices have become attractive to independent physicians seeking a better way to provide quality care for their patients while reducing their own administrative burden. The direct primary care mapper maintained by DPC Frontier provides real-time answers to the question of “how many DPC practices are in the US today?”
The interactive and updated map on the DPC Frontier site shows that currently there are 1,762 DPC practices in the US today, spanning across 48 states and Washington, DC. To qualify for inclusion on the map, the practice must meet the organization’s three-part definition of a DPC in that it:
- Charges a periodic fee
- Does not bill any third parties on a fee for service basis
- Ensures that any per visitmcharge is less than the monthly equivalent of the periodic fee.
The map includes the three types of DPC practices:
- Pure – the practice takes no insurance
- Hybrid – the practice does bill insurance in addition to collecting a monthly patient membership fee
- On-site – the practice serve employees of a large corporation exclusively.
The organization estimates that 250,000 patients now take advantage of the DPC structure. These patients are discovering the benefits of receiving “ongoing primary care from their doctor with zero copays, convenient online scheduling options, near-wholesale prices on medications and blood tests, and even their doctor’s personal cell number.”
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The number of DPC practices in the US does not include those practices that are considered concierge care. These different structures are often confused and even categorized together in some instances. However, direct primary care is not the same as concierge care.
A DPC practice typically charges a flat monthly fee for all services and will not bill patients separately for office visits. A concierge practice generally requires a fee for access to the practice as well as for non-covered services and may also bill the patient or their insurer for office visits. In addition, concierge practices typically charge higher fees, on average around $183 a month as compared to an average monthly fee of $77 for a DPC practice membership.
The number of patients each type of practice sees is considerably different as well. Even though DPC practice have much smaller patient panels than a traditional primary care practice, usually around 600 as compared to 2300-2500, the concierge practice will have even smaller patient panels.
AAFP describes the DPC structure as emphasizing and prioritizing “the intrinsic power of the relationship between a patient and his/her family physician to improve health outcomes and lower overall health care costs.” DPC providers are able to spend more time with each patient in the office and communicate easily in between visits. AAFP further emphasizes that the model is consistent with its advocacy of the advanced primary care functions.
As more DPC providers enjoy proven success, some celebrating their seventh and eighth year in business now, the number of DPC practices in the US is expected to grow in the years to come.