Learn how direct primary care differs from traditional healthcare practices.
Understanding the Direct Primary Care Model:
Direct Primary Care (DPC) is a delivery model in which patients pay a monthly fee to a primary care provider in exchange for access to select healthcare services. This periodic membership fee covers services that vary based on the provider but generally include basic evaluations, check-ups, and services/visits offered by the primary care office (1).
Direct Primary Care vs Traditional Practices:
With Direct Primary Care (DPC), patients receive enhanced access to care through an improved patient-doctor interaction (1). DPC is an alternative to the traditional model of healthcare which is a fee-for-service model that is shown to be less sustainable (2). Traditional practices tend to be larger due to providers seeing multiple patients in one day which often leads to a middle-man such as a PA or a nurse practitioner overseeing the patient instead (3). In addition to this, traditional practices work with third-parties such as insurance which affects what kind of care patients can receive. DPC tends to be favored by patients due to the increased level of attention given to patients by the doctors as well as an increase in wellness visits since they are already included in the monthly fee.
The Direct Primary Care Model Has Many Advantages For Both Patients And Providers:
Private clinics often use the direct primary care model because it eliminates the administrative burden and the need for billing third parties such as insurance companies (4). Instead, physicians are being paid directly for services by the patients. As a result, this creates less hassle and overhead costs for all parties involved. This means anyone can be seen and have access to care regardless of insurance status since patient fees are paid directly to their provider. Pricing is upfront, and medications, as well as certain tests, may be discounted (5). Physicians can quickly refer patients to other providers and/or specialists based on individual health needs. It is important to note that a direct primary care membership does not include additional expenses of seeing a specialist, visiting the emergency room, and hospital stays. However, the majority of a patient’s day-to-day health needs can be taken care of by a direct primary care physician.
Access To Care Has Never Been Easier:
Through the use of the direct primary care model, physicians get to spend more time delivering quality care to patients. Acquiring services can be easy and affordable. Healthcare services become convenient and personalized for each patient. This enhanced patient experience involves little to no wait times to see their provider with an appointment. Doctors are easily accessible through many communication methods such as in-person office visits, virtual visits as well as calls/texts. This model allows for both patients and doctors to create a health action plan and decide the best treatment without other outside influences. One of the most important aspects of the direct primary care model is creating a trusting relationship between patient and provider.
Direct primary care is a model that incorporates elements of traditional care but with modernized features. This model is not a replacement for traditional health care plans involving insurance, but rather it can be used as an alternative or in addition to your already existing service. Access to comprehensive patient care means better health outcomes at a lower cost. If elements of this model sound interesting, then direct primary care may be a good fit for your healthcare needs.
- Brekke G, Onge JS, Kimminau K, Ellis S. Direct primary care: Family physician perceptions of a growing model. Population Medicine. http://www.populationmedicine.eu/Direct-primary-care-Family-physician-perceptions-of-a-growing-model,140087,0,2.html. Published August 2, 2021. Accessed September 30, 2022.
- AR; M. Direct primary care: A successful financial model for the clinical practice of Lifestyle Medicine. American journal of lifestyle medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34646107/. Accessed September 30, 2022.
- Kauffman RD. Transitioning to direct primary care. Family Practice Management. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/fpm/issues/2020/0700/p29.html. Published June 30, 2020. Accessed September 30, 2022.
- ES; C. Direct primary care: Applying theory to potential changes in delivery and outcomes. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine : JABFM. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29986986/. Accessed September 30, 2022.
- Traditional vs. DPC. claritydirect. https://www.claritydirectcare.com/traditonal-vs-direct-care#:~:text=Direct%20primary%20care%20practices%20tend,Patient%20oriented. Accessed September 30, 2022.