Charting current, future thoughts on DPC
Seventy-nine percent of the DPC survey’s respondents reported “generally having all the time needed with patients to provide the highest standards of care” contrasting with only 11.1 percent of primary care practitioners feeling this way in the 2016 Merritt Hawkins survey. As a possible explanation, only 26.4 percent reported spending greater than 10 hours per week on “non-clinical (paperwork) duties” versus 48 percent of primary care providers in the 2016 survey.
An “additional comments” section was offered with the survey, which provides further insight into the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of the DPC practitioners. The following comment captures a common theme:
“I think overall, the state of medicine is in terrible shape. I think Direct Primary Care is one way to help save our profession. I have only been doing DPC for six months so I am still recovering from the previous 16 years of the fee-for-service nightmare. I could not recommend medicine to anybody in the current state of the profession but I definitely would recommend direct primary care.”
[For more comments from the survey, click here for a slideshow.]
In a follow-up survey, after a presentation of the Moral and Practice Patterns of Direct Primary Care Physicians, 23 4th-year medical school students from the USF/Morsani College of Medicine responded to questions regarding their thoughts on direct primary care and their experience within the current healthcare system.
The data showed 47.8 percent heard about DPC prior to the presentation and 43.5 percent have considered DPC or practicing outside of the insurance-based reimbursement system. A high percentage (77.3 percent) reported a perceived
a concerning level of poor job satisfaction in the medical field and 47.8 percent stated an impact on specialty and career decisions.
Based on the Moral and Practice Patterns of Direct Primary Care Physicians survey data, DPC demonstrates as a means of achieving the “fourth aim” of healthcare—improved clinician and staff work life. This aim may provide a foundation from which to rebuild family medicine and possibly other areas of medicine.
The information gathered by this study about physicians—in addition to existing information on DPC cost, quality, and access metrics—points to DPC as primary care model that should be strongly considered by patients, current and future primary care physicians, as well as state and federal lawmakers as they draft legislation to promote and protect the growth of the only innovative healthcare model to develop in the past decade.
As the owner of a DPC practice in Pennsylvania, Corba offers the following perspective:
“Primary care is the foundation of medicine and without a functioning workforce of primary care physicians, not only will the U.S. healthcare system falter, but more importantly, the patients will suffer,” Corba says. “Direct Primary Care answers the call for improved access, cost and management of care by removing the administrative burdens of third parties from the office and exam rooms. It is clear from this survey that the intrusion of third parties has eroded the foundation of what primary care is supposed to provide to our patients which is destroying the heart and soul of primary care physicians. DPC is disrupting the status quo; it preserves the sanctity between patients and physicians."
Kimberly Legg Corba, DO, is a board certified family physician, a Direct Primary Care physician, and the owner of Green Hills Direct Family Care in Allentown, Pa. She is also the author of The Manual of Policies and Procedures for Direct Primary Care. Corba was the supervising attending physician for this study.
Michael Watson, MD, a 4th-year Medical Student, at time of writing, enrolled in the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine; he completed 3rd and 4th year rotations at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pa., and is now completing a transitional internship year with the United States Air Force at San Antonio Military Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Watson completed this survey as part of his MS4 Capstone Project.