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DPC is Not the only game in town. Patients Have Options. The Free Market Healthcare Delivery Family Tree isn’t Only About Primary Care Anymore. It’s Bigger Than That.
By Michael Tetreault, Editor/Author, Father & Patient
It takes a village. And today, Patients shuffle in and out of a Doctors office like on a conveyor belt. Moving with a referral from one doctor to another. But not so in the free market healthcare delivery space, which is growing in our opinion from a simple garden to really more of an orchard of options.
It’s been said that a primary care provider (PCP) is a health care practitioner who sees people that have common medical problems. A Physicians’ Physician. This person is most often a doctor. However, a PCP to many Patients in today’s culture may be a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine or an M.D. To most Patients today, we don’t know or care about the difference. Now, if you posted your GPA and test scores next to that oversize diploma or three on the wall, we might sit up straighter and lean in a bit more to your advice.
I say all of that to day, we as Patients are not giving the once respected position of a Physician in our lives or those operating daily in our community the respect you deserve. After all, it used to be that our PCP was often involved in our care for a long, long time. But not any more.
Today’s Patient usually stays the Patient of a PCP for about 5 to 7 years. That’s far from a lifetime.
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So why the slow change and adoption towards free market healthcare delivery options?
Why aren’t Patients recognizing the value, benefit, savings and even relational component of these various practices which might include: Direct Primary Care (DPC) models; subscription-based telemedicine programs; travel doctors; Concierge Medicine Doctors; tele-video Physician apps; and more.
If you’re reading this today and think that the PCP is the center of the universe, believe me, I get it. But we don’t live in that world any longer. We as Patients live in a world where the world is at our finger tips. We have options. We have convenience and we have control.
You see as a Patient when I join an insurance plan, I used to be more or less ‘locked into’ those in-network practices and practitioners. I’m still ‘locked in’ and connected with them for most things outside of primary care, and need to be to avoid a mountain of debt year after year if medical issues arise … but when it comes to primary care, I can take a walk around the orchard and pick who and where I want to be a Patient today. Primary Care has changed. Those that are locked into an old model whereby patients should come to one place for 8/10 ailments or issues just isn’t the way the world operates anymore.
I wish it did. But, time moves on. Things change.
Thus, how are PCPs operating and adapting to these changes. Answer: The Free Market Healthcare Delivery and its family tree are growing and becoming much larger than simply the PCP.
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Today, we have a lot more options when choosing a doctor or where we want to get our healthcare. Some are really good. Some are well, lets just say the jury is still out. And others, well, the data is a little concerning but Patients still go to these apps and places online and around the corner whether the data and their doctor say so or not.
So until such time that a Doctor’s opinion is respected, heeded and followed, consumers will do what they want — when they want.
Don’t believe me? Just look at how the younger generation is connecting with technology and the older generation is looking for relationship? See the difference.
Physicians, particularly those in Family Medicine and Primary Care must adapt. And yes, we do realize healthcare does NOT like to change. We get it.
But whether it’s via an App on our phone, a phone call to a stranger, a visit to an Urgent Care Clinic, a nurse in a box, a kiosk in Walmart or inside a subscription-based healthcare delivery model, there is an entirely new set of options Patients have access to that compete with your expertise as a PCP, time and expert opinion that you should understand.
“America’s Best Places To Work never include a doctors office,” says Michael Tetreault, Editor of the trade publication and conference host, Concierge Medicine Today and its sister publication, The Direct Primary Care Journal. “Inside traditional medicine, patients expect to wait. They expect insurance to cover their visit. When it does not, they expect to fight. Consumers of healthcare today say they expect a disengaged staff and an unpleasant visit when at the Doctor’s offices. Today, subscription-based healthcare delivery models in primary care, family medicine and even sometimes in the specialties — give people a choice. They give people options and that’s a good thing!”