By Catherine Sykes, Publisher, DPC Journal, Concierge Medicine Today, DocPreneur Press
JUNE 22, 2015 – Today, attitudes towards both Concierge Medicine and its demographically diverse and very different familial companion, Direct Primary Care, have undergone significant changes since the signature of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
Even according to a June 2015 article written by the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL and an interview with our Editor, Michael Tetreault of Concierge Medicine Today stated … “Concierge Medicine [and DPC] has evolved, and no longer is the practice limited to well-heeled patients. Even people on fixed incomes and modest means seek the extra attention and access doctors provide.”
DPC Journal Editor (Tetreault, May 2015): “Be Proud to call yourself DPC: 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.“
Membership Medicine has become more accepted and DPC clinics today are now more diverse in their customer base, provide low-cost monthly memberships and are progressively building a large following among savvy employers, Gen. Xers, Millenials and capturing some very impressive employers in certain markets across the U.S.
But while the era of the high-priced, high-end, Concierge Doctor stigma in the minds of many Americans has changed and is changing, Direct Primary Care is the next brand invited to the stage … showing doctors in small towns and suburban metropolitan areas that the personality and patient make-up can be as diverse and unique as the doctors offering it.
The Greatest Challenge The Industry Is About To Take On …
Policy aside, today, the free market medicine community of physicians (including both Concierge Care providers and Direct Primary Care doctors) have a faithful patient following that faces a new challenge. Sadly, it’s a chronic condition ailing millions of people across the country. Education. Admittedly, it may just be the most formidable obstacle doctors have yet faced.
As we monitor the chatter on social media, read the story threads written by thousands of opinionated people about free market healthcare delivery solutions used across America, we are beginning to see a growing community of people that believe doctors, particularly primary care and family medicine physicians, are the problem. Concerns around private-pay clinics — which typically bundle physician access with uninsured services for a monthly, quarterly or annual membership fee — are soon going to be center stage fodder for ‘the queue-jumping patient’ in the coming years ahead.
For example, a reader just last week wrote a letter to the editor and said … Source: Tampa Bay Times (Letters, June 2015): ‘This artfully worded gibberish describes an arrangement under which people contract directly with a doctor to self-pay their charges. Insurance — that pesky “third-party payer system” — is not accepted. Does this sound like a good idea for expanding health care to Floridians? What it sounds like to me is an excellent “innovation” for Florida legislators instead of their current insurance coverage provided largely by the taxpayers.’
The educational obstacles and discussions you will have in the coming years ahead will probably challenge your spirit, frustrate you, humble you and, at times, defy logic. So what are we to do? What are the questions you as a physician need to know the answer to when asked by your patients, new patients, school administrators, local businesses and even the media?
The answer can be found in a recent call we had with a DPC doctor in Missouri a few weeks ago.
RELATED STORY/EVENT (ATLANTA, GA — Friday, JULY 31, 2015)
B2MD: Working with Employers and Local Businesses (ATLANTA, JULY 31, 2015) — Addressing How DPC and Concierge Care Practices Work for/with Employers; Study a Snapshot of Who Is Currently Doing It; Creating a Profile of an Ideal Employer; What Are Employers Looking for? A Profile of Receptive Employers; Determine Your Unique Selling Points; Uncover Objections You Need to Be Prepared for; How to Find Employers in Your Area and more. Speakers: Catherine Sykes, CEO/Publisher, Concierge Medicine Today and The Direct Primary Care Journal and William “Bill” Bennett, CFP, CFCI, Chairman, WORKsiteRx.
She said … “You (The DPC Journal) are the only ones who told me that patients will actually be angry and upset that our practice is changing to a DPC monthly subscription payment model.”
Another story came to us by way of email from a doctor in Colorado. He informed us that a new patient walked in their door with a page ripped right out our 2015 DPC Consumer Guide. It was the page titled “The 40 Questions You Should Ask your DPC Doctor Before You Join.”
The physician writes … “At first, I was impressed. Then, 25 minutes later and 15-questions in, I was starting to get annoyed. Ten minutes later and 4 more questions, the patient left, no membership received. The next day, her entire family of 5 walked in the office and signed up! I was impressed and over joyed. What I learned from that encounter was that my staff and I had some real work to do in overcoming some common objections and serious questions that our community of new patients want answers to. We went back to the drawing board as a team/staff and went thru the “40-Questions Checklist” and we are now very confident we can provide the answers to the questions our patients need and want to know.”
It is no secret that there are thousands of people across America who benefit from old-fashioned, modern-day healthcare delivery solutions such as those used inside Direct Primary Care and Concierge Medicine practices.
However, the reverse is true as well.
There are millions of people across America who do not agree with free market healthcare delivery models. Mainly those used in Membership Medicine (Concierge Medicine, Direct Primary Care practice’s, etc.) and inside Convenient Care Clinics (Walgreens, Minute Clinics, CVS) Urgent Care Centers, etc.
It doesn’t matter what name your adopted practice model is entitled or what flavorful language you put into the FAQs on your web site … there are simply some people strongly believe that not only should healthcare be a ‘right’, but that everyone should also be allowed to use their health insurance cards as yet another form of credit in a debtor enabling society. Be prepared to answer their questions like the examples above did.
The Voices Against Free Market Healthcare Will Only Get Louder In The Years Ahead. So, Be Ready.
Comments about subscription healthcare, retail medicine, Direct Primary Care and even Concierge Care will defy logic. Opinions will be loud, boisterous and at times truthful. Usually these opinionated comments and stories will center around their guiding principle that what you are doing in your practice just simply isn’t right.
December Is National Direct Primary Care Awareness Month
“We’ve got a big divide here,” said one Texas-based Concierge Doctor. “This is about changing the culture that has taken hold … one that believes [primary care] doctors are greedy and uncaring. Our country is divided on healthcare affordability and who should pay for it. We’ve got some very difficult conversations ahead of us amongst those who practice in DPC and Concierge Medicine business models. We want to win all people’s hearts and minds with incredible care and great customer service. But, I’m going to have a tough time making a living assuming the best in people. I’ve got to be willing to engage in some difficult conversations with strangers, some of my new patients and a few of my current patients who strongly disagree with how I should get paid. I will show as much grace and understanding as I possibly can. That’s my job. Sometimes however, we have to pay a price for our principles and ethics … but we either pay for them or with them.”
What’s interesting as we watch these discussions unfold in social media and across the online atmosphere is that many of the same objections people had with Concierge Medicine ten years ago are now the same objections people are raising with Direct Primary Care. More important however, is the long-term educational strategy and discussion doctors must begin using in the years ahead to combat this chronic illness that ails our country. Consumers need to be educated on the realities and benefits of Membership Medicine. Mainstream media cannot be relied upon as the voice for this movement.
To learn how you can be a voice, contact The DPC Journal or Concierge Medicine Today for more information and helpful talking points and tips. Direct: 770-455-1650 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If you think we have it bad …” said one Texas physician to Concierge Medicine Canada.