“I’ve been skeptical of the movement,” says Berenson, who also practiced primary care for 20 years. “I don’t understand why the same energy (that’s being used for the DPC movement) hasn’t gone into making insurers change their payment methods and their payment amounts.”
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Berenson says he does believe DPC is a good concept, but there is not enough data to show its sustainability, and with the closure of Qliance and Turntable—who did not wish to comment on this story—that doubt remains.
“The sad part is I certainly understand the doctors who want to get off the treadmill, but we already have a shortage of primary care physicians,” he says. “Then we are pulling [physicians] out from the workforce who are catering to healthier people and then that exacerbates the situation we already have.”
Philip Eskew, DO—founder and CEO of Frontier DPC in Cheyenne, Wyoming—says he has concerns that the DPC movement, “appears to be growing at a linear rather than exponential rate,” attributing most of the growth to smaller, standalone practices. But he notes despite the closure of Qliance and Turntable, “greater than 90% of them appear to remain open.”
Eskew adds that his greatest concern is “too few family physicians are willing or interested to practice broad scope family medicine, and too few patients are willing or aware that they should be holding their physicians accountable to this higher standard.”
So, in turn, he notes, patients aren’t making the move to DPC.
“Too many patients see direct primary care and think, ‘I already have a cardiologist, endocrinologist and neurologist, but I never see my family physician so I would never use DPC,'” Eskew says.
Nonetheless, Eskew notes, that DPC is too diverse to fail on a larger scale.
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Bliss agrees and says DPC physicians are still pushing their movement forward in the form of creating their own network without the government’s involvement.
“That’s where this is going,” she says. “Many flowers are blooming and we’re all just starting to talk to each other.”
*Editor's Note: We have updated this article to clarifiy Philip Eskew's comments.