My name is Dr. Kimberly Nalda and I am the physician owner of a Direct Primary Care practice called Rekindle Family Medicine. This is part of a blog series about Direct Primary Care. If you missed the first entry about what led me down the road to starting this new clinic, please CLICK HERE.
And now for an announcement:
The health care system is broken.
Many people want to reform healthcare but this is a huge and ill-fated undertaking in my opinion. Certainly political opinions about this are all over the map. I will not open those debates at this time. However I will say that rather than “top down” reform, I believe in the grassroots innovation like the revolution I’m participating in now. The “disruptive innovation” of Direct Primary Care is changing the way that we practice primary care for the better. It is driving DOWN the cost of healthcare and slashing red tape. It is providing access and value for patients to finally get the care they deserve.
Patients are frustrated.
Patients are frustrated with the lack of time that their doctor spends with them or the inconvenience of having to come to the office multiple times for multiple complaints instead just being able to take care of them all at one visit. It takes weeks to months to get in as a new patient and often many days to weeks when you have a problem that you want to get in immediately. Patients have to take many hours off of work and wait in the waiting room for a busy doctor only to get a 7-10 minute visit where many of their questions remain unanswered. Many times people are forced to just got to a walk in clinic where they will see a strange doctor they have no connection with and will not know their history but it is the only person they can get in to see at the time when they need to be seen. Several local doctor’s offices no longer are able to see sick patients because they are just too full!
Doctors are frustrated.
Lately, doctors are often portrayed as uncaring, greedy people who prefer to spend 3-7 minutes with patients and are rolling in dough. Nothing is further from the truth. Doctors are working harder than ever, seeing more patients to try to make ends meet. The insurance company’s regulations are so complicated and cumbersome, doctors have to hire billers and coders to keep up with the busy work that they require. This costs more money and time so the doctor’s are making less and less money which makes them have to see more and more patients to make up the difference. Many doctor’s offices are closing their doors because insurance is not reimbursing them enough to keep the lights on and pay their staff. Haven’t you heard recently of a local doctor’s office doing just this? Staff are being let go and billing and coding jobs are being sent overseas. Doctors are retiring early and quitting before they planned because of how burned out they are. Doctors are committing suicide at alarming rates. Dr. Pamela Wible has done some tremendous work on the subject of physician burnout. Please see her blog HERE.
Why do we need Direct Primary Care?
Most people are in agreement that the current health care system is broken. I do not go through a day without hearing either a disgruntled patient or doctor lamenting how ridiculous the paperwork is or how low the reimbursement is. Direct Primary care takes insurance out of the equation, allowing nearly all of the frustrating parts of medicine to fall away and leaving only a great relationship between doctor and patient.
So what is Direct Primary Care?
Direct Primary Care is a new practice model which allows doctors and patients to have a relationship which does not involve insurance companies. In this alternative payment model, patients pay a monthly membership fee and the doctors provide the professional service. They have a direct relationship with their doctor!
We can spend MUCH MORE TIME with each patient. Included in the monthly fee, patients have 24/7 access to the physician via phone, email, text, video chat and in person visits. There are no co-pays or additional fees for procedures! Many in offices tests are included free with membership. Labs and radiology are offered at deep discounts, often at up to 95% discount from insurance based prices. In addition to providing accessible, quality health care, Direct Primary Care offices often have medication dispensaries on site which sell medications at wholesale prices. Medications are purchased in bulk and dispensed at wholesale prices to our patients.
DPC takes out the middle man, cuts through the layers of complexity and provides good, old-fashioned customer service just like in the golden years of family medicine. Some practices (like Rekindle Family Medicine) even provide housecalls!
Direct Primary Care (DPC) is taking the nation by storm because it’s a new idea which is working! No more long waits to get an appointment, long waits in the office, lack of access, interminable phone trees, staff that block patient from talking to the doctor, insurance costs, third party companies requirements for preauthorization, bloated costs and waste of money and time.
Instead, DPC offers:
NO Co-payments, scheduling or procedure fees
Monthly billing with transparent pricing
Unhurried, leisurely appointments often 60-90 minutes with new patients
Same day/Next day appointments for existing patients
New Patient visits within 1 week of joining (often much sooner)
24/7 access to the doctor with email, phone, text and video chat - Did you hear that? You can TEXT the doctor’s office!
House calls and after hours visits
Access to your electronic medical records from your computer or phone
Wholesale savings on medications
Deeply discounted labs and imaging
I am no longer hopeful for insurance reform, but I believe we should REKINDLE the art and the joy of the practice of medicine. Direct Primary care provides doctors and patients an alternative to the current system, and allows us all to regain our sanity.
Stay tuned for future blog posts where we will tackle:
- Who would benefit from Direct Primary Care?
- How does insurance work with Direct Primary Care?
- Specific examples of cost savings.
- What is the difference between concierge medicine and DPC?
- Specific benefits of Rekindle Family Medicine.
- How are we growing?