Doctors Love Direct Primary Care
The rising prevalence of burnout among physicians has raised questions on how it affects healthcare access, the quality of care, and patient safety. Doctors experiencing burnout or depression are more likely to leave a practice, which interrupts patients’ access to and continuity of care. In addition to taking a toll on the mental health of the practitioner, exhaustion can also threaten patient safety and lead to weak interactions with patients due to impaired attention, memory, and executive function. The causes of burnout include patient panels that are too large, administrative overload, and constraints from insurance companies. All these reasons are why doctors love direct primary care (DPC) and are turning away from the fee-for-service world.
Doctors Are Feeling the Pressure
It’s well known that insurance providers pressure doctors to limit their appointment times with patients. Over 50 percent of physicians in a recent study said they experience time pressures when conducting physical examinations. Nearly 33 percent felt they needed at least 50 percent more time than was allotted for this task. An additional 25 percent reported needing at least 50 percent more time for follow-up appointments.
High-pressure working conditions with little control of work pace directly correlate with physicians’ feelings of dissatisfaction, stress, and desire to leave the practice in some cases. In recent years, many have reclaimed the joy of practicing medicine by returning to the basics through Direct primary care (DPC). DPC has emerged as a life-changing alternative for three reasons. It allows physicians to eliminate or minimize interactions with insurance companies, it mitigates administrative hassles and restores the relationship between doctors and patients.
Freedom from Paperwork
While some doctors adopt a hybrid DPC model where they see some insured patients and some direct primary care members, some opt for a DPC-only practice. Being liberated from all the time and money spent filing claims and doing other administrative tasks related to working with insurance companies is an attractive perk for many.
One study found that for every hour a doctor spent with patients, he spent an additional two hours filling out paperwork for insurance companies. Some liken having doctors waste two-thirds of their time to having LeBron James spend most of his time selling game tickets instead of playing.
When there are no insurance providers involved, there’s no billing involved. This practice means less money spent on salaries for administrative staff. The freedom to choose whether to see patients with insurance provides greater peace of mind for some.
Making Patients the Priority
By charging an affordable monthly fee for direct primary care membership, a physician can know what profits he’s going to make for a certain number of patients each month. This stability in revenue allows him to keep a manageable panel of patients. By eliminating the guesswork of how to remain profitable with an overwhelming number of patients (often in the thousands), doctors can save themselves from overworking to keep their business afloat.
And when he opts out of fee-for-service appointments, there are no limits to the time he can spend with patients. This factor is one of the main reasons physicians love direct primary care. It enables them to make patients the priority again. Many physicians lament going into medicine because they wanted to help people only to find their hands tied by bureaucracy.
The beauty of DPC is that it places control of the practice back into the doctor’s hands. Without time constraints, the physician can take the time necessary to dissect a patient’s medical history and find underlying causes of illness that may have been missed previously. DPC allows them to build a proper foundation and a long-term relationship with patients who feel like they’re finally seen and heard.
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