In the current fee-for-service primary care system where doctor visits can be less than 10 minutes, 30-to-60 minute visits typical of Direct Primary Care practices almost appear too good to be true. Today, in insurance-dependent practices, time is literally money – if a certain number of patients aren’t seen per day, the practice cannot afford to stay in business. Direct Primary Care’s monthly payment structure takes the necessity out of seeing patients in such rapid-fire fashion, offering numerous advantages:
Patients Exhaust Their Concerns
Patients sometimes schedule their appointments weeks or months in advance. Plans are made to alter work schedules, circumvent chores, and the anticipated doctor’s appointment becomes the focal point for the entire day, sometimes the entire month. The time leading up to the appointment is used to list concerns, questions, and health updates. Direct Primary Care’s longer visits allow patients ample time to exhaust their thoughts during the appointment, resulting in stronger patient histories, and consequently, improved patient assessment.
Doctors Take Time with Examinations
Which would you rather prefer? A doctor that rushes you through an appointment, or one that takes time examining you thoroughly? Unfortunately, in today’s insurance-centric primary care practice, the doctor has one eye on the patient, and the other on the computer screen’s clock. Conversely, in Direct Primary Care practices, doctors can take time examining their patients, truly listening, thinking, and engaging in productive discussion. Concentration is unbroken as the doctor doesn’t have to juggle time-management, with patient-management.
More Dialogue, More Rapport
Good rapport is of paramount importance in any patient-doctor relationship. Rapport leads to patient trust, which in turn leads to improved treatment adherence, facilitated disclosure of hidden issues, and greater satisfaction with the medical establishment. To build rapport, spending adequate time to fully satisfy the patient is important. Direct Primary Care allows physicians and patients to engage in meaningful discussion as time is not a constraint. The increased dialogue lessens patient (and doctor) frustration, builds critical rapport, and creates a more satisfying medical experience for all parties.
Time for Preventive and Behavioral Counseling
I often say that true medical care takes place at a patient’s home or at work, not the doctor’s office – the doctor’s visit merely serves to make periodic adjustments. Given that most patients only come in when sick, little time is left to discuss preventive medicine, behavior-modifying guidance, medical education, and counseling on adverse lifestyles. The luxury of longer Direct Primary Care visits allow for “health care” in addition to “sick care”, a necessary ingredient when attempting to improve patient outcomes.
Longer doctor visits, a hallmark of Direct Primary Care practices, is a return to times past, when the patient was given more time, attention, and some might say, more respect. Just one of the many advantages of Direct Primary Care, America’s newest healthcare model.