Third-party payors have disturbed the service provider’s business process of fulfilling the needs and desires of their clients in health care. Insurance companies have taken away decision-making abilities from physicians and patients. Direct primary care brings that function back to physicians trained to make medical decisions in cooperation with their patients.

Christopher Larson, DO, and April Calderon, DO, are passionate when it comes to direct primary care (DPC). They are osteopathic family physicians who have been running a family medicine practice, Euphora Health, in Austin, Texas, using the DPC payment model for six years.

Implementing the Osteopathic Philosophy

The Euphora Health website states: “Affordable Quality Healthcare. Insurance Not Required. No Co-pays.” That is what the DPC payment model is all about. It cuts out third-party billing through insurance companies by charging patients an affordable periodic fee that covers basic well-care visits, some in-office tests and procedures, and urgent care services. It also offers more patient/physician time for better communication and treatment.

Dr. Larson believes DPC allows him to implement the osteopathic philosophy within primary care, finding and treating the root cause of a disease. He feels the osteopathic philosophy gets to how a person lives their life. A physician needs sufficient time to diagnose and educate patients about the problem—and the potential path to reversing it. DPC gives him the freedom to spend more valuable time with patients to reach that goal, as opposed to rushing through high numbers of patients to fill a quota.

He is able to work from 9–5 and spend the desired amount of time with 6–10 patients in the clinic per day while taking care of others by text and phone calls, avoiding the dreaded physician burnout that may occur with primary care physicians working endless hours doing more administrative computer work than patient care. In the DPC model, he is incentivized to perform all of these duties, along with general primary care medicine. He is paid for all his time, not just for the number of patients he sees.

A Higher Level of Service

Dr. Calderon previously worked at a hospital system’s outpatient clinic and then a private practice. After leaving the hospital system clinic every day, she spent approximately two to three hours at home working on the computer: filling out forms, doing paperwork, returning emails. She moved to private practice hoping for a better schedule but found herself working the same long days—rushing to see many patients in the day, not spending enough time with them and doing computer work at home.

When considering her move to direct primary care, Dr. Calderon had some common concerns. She worried that she would have to be on call for patients 24/7; that she would not have time in the day to call patients back or do administrative work; and that she might not be able to provide a higher level of service to her patients. She also thought patients might overuse the “urgent” call function through the company’s communication and digital care platform, Spruce. Once she took the step and switched to DPC, she found none of her misconceptions to be true.

The perks to her new practice model include more time with patients, telemedicine flexibility and less computer work. She is able to perform minor procedures and tests in the office without consulting insurance companies for payment or permission, and she has the time to call patients with test results and discuss treatment options. Additionally, she and her patients now decide the best course of treatment—not insurance executives in another city or state.

Under the DPC model, Dr. Calderon enjoys better overall job satisfaction than in the hospital system and private practice settings. She loves having the ability to control her schedule and use her skills to a higher degree so that she can offer a greater level of service to her patients.

Interested in learning more about direct primary care? Check out these resources:

  • Event, DPC Summit. The Direct Primary Care (DPC) Summit, taking place virtually July 17–18, is the only direct primary care event designed for family physicians. Attendees will learn about running a DPC practice, connect with others who wish to be free of third-party billing problems and constraints, network with physicians who share a passion for whole-patient care, and meet with vendors who offer patient-centered solutions. Register now  and use promo code SUM20ACOFP to lock in member pricing.
  • Podcast, How to Start a DPC Practice and What to Expect. In 2018, Dr. Larson recorded this ACOFP podcast, in which he explains how DPC physicians can negotiate significantly discounted rates for patients through contracts with imaging and diagnostic laboratories.
  • Website, DPC Frontier. Dr. Larson encourages interested physicians to visit this website to learn about state and federal regulations, gain access to informational resources and find out if the DPC payment model is right for them.
  • Blog, Eurphora Health. Visit this resource for more information on best practices, benefits and patient care.
  • Website, DPC Alliance. DPC alliance is a grassroots, non-profit organization providing vision, leadership, and guidance to the DPC community through physician-led education, mentorship, advocacy, and organization intelligence.
  • Video, DPC Summit 2018.  Video of Dr. Larson lecture, “Employers and DPC: How-to Guide.”

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