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Doctors Speak Up About Direct Primary Care: New Survey Reveals Physician Attitudes to DPC Model

Post By Naveen Rao

October 14, 2016

InCrowd has teamed up with Naveen Rao, the editor of Tincture, a website covering healthcare and humanity, for a 3-part series on perceptions of Direct Primary Care. Over the next three weeks we will examine what physicians know about this model, its pros and cons, and what kind of impact it might have for both physicians and patients. We surveyed 226 US based primary care physicians with an average of 20 years experience to get feedback from the front lines of primary care.

Six years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, much remains uncertain, but one thing is clear: improving health care is tough. On the payment side, a few major insurers have left the exchanges, citing financial losses. On the care delivery side, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs, or voluntary groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, providing care to Medicare patients), have struggled to meet savings and performance benchmarks, while private practices face a combination of market-driven cost increases and unending, payer-driven regulatory burdens.

As policy wonks and health economists debate and tinker with an evolving framework of measurement and incentive payments,  a new crop of entrepreneurial physicians have begun to ask another question: What if there was a way to remove the insurance complexity from the primary care system?

Direct Primary Care (DPC) has emerged as a popular answer to this hypothetical question for one simple reason: It does away with the current forms of insurance reimbursement and the accompanying regulations and paperwork. 

In the United States, direct primary care (DPC) is a type of primary care billing and payment arrangement made between patients and providers, without sending claims to insurance providers.

While not without its limitations and fair share of critics, this approach is gaining recognition if for no other reason than its goals of simplifying the delivery of ambulatory primary care services and payment. Physicians working in DPC practices simply collect monthly subscription fees directly from patients, without involving insurance companies. In turn, patients enjoy more time and attention from their doctor during and between visits.

What Doctors Are Saying

Tincture recently partnered with InCrowd to administer a brief survey to 226 primary care physicians to explore their sentiments about the Direct Primary Care model. The goals were to gauge physicians’ familiarity with the model, including their perceived benefits and challenges of switching to a DPC model.

The vast majority of physicians (87% percent) was at least somewhat familiar with the DPC model with a percentage of respondents already working or operating in a DPC.

Physicians also provided their thoughts on the benefits and barriers to applying such a model in their practice.

dpc_barriers

A major takeaway from delving into various aspects of DPC was that the majority of PCPs reported that they felt the model would be mutually beneficial to both physicians and patients.

dpc-improved-experience

 

Stay tuned for part two in our three part series: The Challenges of a Direct Primary Care Model.

Interested in joining the Crowd and sharing your medical expertise? Learn More.

Thank you to our partners in this series, Tincture.

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