Last fall, Eastport residents Bill and Ellen Peterson found themselves increasingly frustrated with their doctor’s office. Bill had symptoms of Lyme disease wanted to see his primary care doctor.
It took weeks to get an appointment and then an hour or more waiting to be seen. When he finally got to see his doctor, she was only able to spend a few minutes before rushing to the next patient. She seemed to be so busy and they felt they had so many questions unanswered.
Ellen describes feeling frustrated and lost. She felt that if they became sick, they really needed to be able to get help. Bill said, “When you are worried about your health, a rushed visit, crammed between 30 other people, while the doctor is typing into a computer screen is not ok.”
Then Ellen came across an article in Time magazine about a different kind of primary care office called Direct Primary Care.
“The idea is deceptively simple. Pay frontline doctors a fixed monthly fee directly instead of through the byzantine insurance bureaucracy. Make the patient, rather than the paperwork, the focus of the doctor’s day.
Bill and Ellen (not their real names) found a practice near them called Evolve Direct Primary Care which had opened in 2014. After visiting and interviewing the physician there, Dr. Michael Freedman, Bill had this to say: “By adding less than $100 per month for me and my wife, we get all the primary and urgent care we need. Plus all 3 of our kids are covered for free.“
“We feel like we have near-constant access to our doctor. A quick text or email or phone call–or even a FaceTime type visit–is often enough for Dr. Freedman to diagnose our problem.” –Ellen Peterson, Eastport resident.
“It fits so much better with our busy family’s lifestyle. I can’t tell you how much time we’ve saved. Not to mention not having to rush home from work to be seen or waiting in a busy, dirty waiting room,” added Bill.
The Problem: Hospitals Kill A Lot of People
Last year, Johns Hopkins published a study that showed medical errors accounted for an estimated 250,000 deaths per year.
“Doctors and hospitals are the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. Imagine the benefit to our patients if we can can cut down on unnecessary hospitalizations, ER trips and even surgeries, ” added Dr. Freedman. “We didn’t feel we could wait for the government or insurance companies to do the right thing.”
The Answer: Direct Primary Care
Direct Primary Care, or DPC, is getting a lot of national attention. It has been featured on NBC Nightly News, Forbes, Time, NPR and the Wall Street Journal which report that people using DPC are finally getting more personalized care, better attention and doctors who are not rushed and can actually listen.
“There are many good reasons for an individual to connect with a direct primary care physician: better quality care, a return to relationship medicine and often a significant cost savings despite the fee.”—Dr. Stephen C. Schimpff, former CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The American Academy of Family Physicians supports direct-pay primary care, too. With the new practice model, “Physician satisfaction goes up. Quality goes up and costs go down because you don’t have to prove it to Uncle Sam or an insurance company.”
Direct Primary Care Lowers Risk of Death?
- 35% fewer hospitalizations
- 65% fewer ER visits
- 66% fewer specialists visits
- 82% fewer surgeries
It does not take an advanced degree in statistics to come to the conclusion that less time spent in ERs, hospitals and undergoing surgeries would lower your chance of death from hospital-related medical errors.
At Evolve Medical, where Bill and Ellen go, the monthly membership covers most of their primary care and urgent care needs — which is statistically 95% of the healthcare people actually use. They keep their regular insurance as a safety net in case they need surgery or get hospitalized. “In other words,” Ellen offered, “we use health insurance like home or auto insurance. We don’t need it to pay for all the little stuff. We’ve got Evolve for all of that. It cuts out so much hassle.”
To learn more about DPC, visit either the American Academy of Family Physicians or DPCare.org. To learn more about Evolve Medical, the DPC mentioned in the above article, visit their website: www.emc4me.com.