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How direct primary care benefits patients with chronic conditions

A new concept called direct primary care be a viable option to costly health insurance.

Direct primary care works like a health care gym membership. In exchange for a membership fee (the industry average monthly payment ranges from $25 to $85), patients have access to around-the-clock primary health care. They can even schedule same-day appointments and longer office visits with their doctors as needed.

A major reason why monthly fees are affordable for the masses is because many DPC practices follow a micro-practice philosophy in which most resources focus on patient care. By opting out of insurance contracts and accompanied claims personnel, a DPC practice can sustain itself while devoting just one-third of revenues towards overhead.

Dr. James Breen, co-founder of Vitral Family Medicine, a direct primary care practice located in Greensboro, NC, provides an example of how DPC provides fast access to care for patients who need lots of medical attention.

“It’s pivotal moments like these where DPC doctors can get back to the heart of doctoring,” says Breen.

“I don’t want this to be a matter of ‘Oh, we’re better diagnosticians’ or anything. It goes beyond that. We’re talking about a system of care. The processes of care in most conventional practices are unwieldy and make it difficult to allot the kind of high-touch and timely care that we were able to provide in this case.”

Fortunately, large-scale DPC organizations like Paladina Health have compelling numbers suggesting that patients who are chronically ill find that direct care is more beneficial compared to accessing care in the traditional health system.

This is what can happen when primary care physicians opt out of insurance contracts. Less paperwork means more time to spend with patients as needed to effectively prevent at-risk health conditions or manage comorbidities. More time means better access which yields fewer specialist referrals, unnecessary hospital admissions, and emergency room visits.

Studies show that in the traditional system of care, 43 percent of physicians spend more than one-third of their day on data entry and other administrative tasks. Other surveys say primary care physicians spend upwards of 50 percent of a patient’s office visit on the computer. No wonder 87 percent of surveyed physicians feel professional burnout due to these administrative demands.

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