JUNE 1, 2015 – “A lot of people (including the media, especially smaller, local news sources, and many doctors across the country) like to compare Direct Primary Care (DPC) to its demographically different — familial companion, Concierge Medicine.
They say … ‘Well … DPC is the less expensive alternative.’
To say this, puts DPC in an unnecessary box with a stereotype a growing sector in healthcare does not need in its infancy.
“We won’t move the cost-access curve and improve quality by balkanizing ourselves into factions based on subtle differences in practice models, services or billing frequency,” notes Dr. Robert Nelson, a direct primary care physician based in the Atlanta metropolitan area. “I can say with certainty that if we don’t unify for free-market, insurance-free practices of all stripes then the status quo claims culture will continue to march on to dominance while we fight on definitions.”
But many of the patient reviews, the patient interviews and even the physician industry service offerings say something completely different over the past two years since the interest in DPC has given physicians a career alternative and lawmakers pause in their legislative efforts.
According to The DPC Journal’s patient insight polls comparing the monthly cost of DPC services to Concierge Care services … the difference is as little as $25?
“Determining the right price point for the monthly DPC membership, and what services would be included in said membership were both of vital importance,” says Dr. Clint Flanagan and Dr. David Tusek of Nextera Healthcare based in Firestone, CO. “At first we considered charging a monthly fee accompanied by a very low fee per office visit. However, we both agreed the dual fee structure would create complexities and we were trying to simplify the delivery of primary care. Thus, we set a $99 per month individual price, $139 per month for couples, $179 per month for a four-person family, and $39 per month per child for additional dependents.”
Furthermore, there are some DPC offices that charge $200 per month and accept no insurance and the patients rave about their doctor. On the other hand, there are Concierge Care practices across the country that cost less than $125 per month and do participate in some local insurance plans.
MDVIP, the largest network of annual fee physicians to-date with over 600 locations across the U.S., highlights the positive expressions of transparent fees at affordable prices inside their hundreds of doctors offices.
Cypress Concierge Medicine physician, Dr. Brian Nadolne, MD of Marietta, GA noted in his biography to patients … “I became a concierge physician for the same reason I became a doctor – I want to help people. With this model, I can continue to help people even when traditional medicine changes significantly. When a patient has a “one more thing, Doctor…,” the last thing I want to do is to cut the patient off. Patients deserve to be involved in their care and receive the valuable service of planning for optimal health with the guidance of a family physician who is dedicated to the care of the patient.”
All this to say, the “docpreneurial” spirit is alive, thriving and operating various price points. So, lets unpack this insight a little further and look ‘big picture’ at the DPC patient subtleties and offerings.
Aspiring “Docpreneurs” find solutions to industry challenges thru DPC Mentors/Coaching ~ 2015, Docpreneur Institute
Starting in 2013-2015, The DPC Journal and our independent research and data collection arm, The Concierge Medicine Research Collective (www.AsktheCollective.org), found that there are four (4) distinguishing factors that differentiate Concierge Care from its demographically diverse and often misunderstood companion, DPC … and it is NOT price …
- Insurance participation of the doctor/practice;
- DPC, most commonly, attracts a Gen. X and Millennial demographic under the age of 45.
- Monthly billing (seen at most DPC clinics), compared to annual and quarterly retainers offered at most concierge clinics, and;
- The amount of services offered.
- BONUS: It’s very popular among employers seeking to reduce employee healthcare costs.
In both Concierge Care and DPC, people have inherent, not ascribed value. There’s no class order … no first class or second class, just people for whom doctors serve each day. They’ve built clinics for children, families and people who are sick … and it is these visioneering physicians who are drawing attention to the cost of healthcare across the country and designing ways for it to be available and affordable for anyone.
“One of the main reasons I decided to make this huge career change into a Direct Primary Care practice was to give patients what they deserve from their doctor….time,” writes Dr. Jeffrey Gold, MD of Gold Direct Care based in the Boston, MA. area in an op/ed he wrote recently entitled “What We Strive For With DPC.”
Whichever business practice and business payment model you choose is your choice … and having talked to hundreds of patients and physicians in these two classifications of free market healthcare delivery over the past decade … I can tell you without reservation that it’s OKAY to be one or the other … but you don’t need to refer to yourself as BOTH any more.
- If you are a Concierge Medicine doctor, be proud of it … because your fellow colleagues across the country en masse (approx. 6,000, source; Concierge Medicine Today, Summery 2015) certainly are.
- If you are a Direct Primary Care (direct care) doctor … own it, be proud of it, brand it your own … because your fellow colleagues (nearly 300, Source; The DPC Journal 2015 Annual Report, June 2015) certainly are also.
If we are going to continue to move the needle forward in DPC, villainizing Concierge Care and/OR comparing your business to it will not accomplish the task at-hand. Concierge Medicine is not bad. Patients love it. And, they’ll love DPC … if you do as well … but brand it your own in your local community!
Jim Eischen, Esq., said it best this past April 2015 at a physician meeting in Phoenix, Arizona when he said from the podium …’let’s focus on substance, not labels.'”
Source: The Direct Primary Care Journal, 2015, June 1.