What if Restaurants, like Hospitals, Refused to Share Their Prices?

Remember that post about what would happen if restaurants billed like hospitals? Well, in another similar yet oh-so-different comparison, we see what happens when the billing process is stuck under the table like gum. In “What if Restaurants, like Hospitals, Refused to Share Their Prices?” by KQED, we learn that Americans hold a serious grudge against the hospital billing process. There’s seemingly no better way to express our frustration than putting our angst side by side with something we love – food.

It all started with this analogy shared on Twitter:

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Christina Farr, the author of the post (and this article) said she was “floored by the volume and breadth of responses, which ranged from laugh-out-loud funny to downright depressing.” At the end of the day, though, it lights a fire under our… well, you know, to tell more people about DPC. Because as incredible as it sounds, DPC docs (and patients!) don’t have to worry about wonky billing practices, misleading costs, networks, or any other billing shenanigans for that matter. 

Billing with DPC is structured just like the rest of of the model – it’s based on an open patient-doctor relationship built on trust. Patients know what they’re being charged before they’re charged. Not only is it a totally transparent process, but it’s reliable and consistent.

We’re not ones to walk away from a problem, but this is one issue we’re thrilled to sidestep in lieu of something better.

The Truth in Numbers. It’s a DPC Thing.

The Truth in Numbers. It’s a DPC Thing.

We talk a lot about the services Direct Care practices offer. We also talk a lot about how DPC docs have the time and resources to put their patients first. And then there’s the ever present mantra of how DPC cuts out the middle man, taking healthcare back to two key embodiments: quality and simplicity.

That’s all well and good, but it’s time we talked more about the numbers. They don’t get nearly enough attention, and they’re starting to feel left out. And they definitely deserve it.

Dr. Josh of Atlas MD recently talked to the Vermont Watchdog about some of the savings his clinic is able to pass along to their patients:

“I just stitched up a kid, one of our patients, who fell at the ice rink and needed six stitches in the chin. That could be $2,000 in an emergency room or $500 at an urgent care center. But I can do it for free.”

Beyond that, though, there are savings around nearly every corner.

“MRIs cost about 80 percent less than what hospitals charge. Blood tests costs $3, not the hundreds of dollars charged in the hospital system. Migraine medicines that cost more than $100 per month at a pharmacy cost just $6 at Atlas MD.”

The savings extend to companies, too. Dr. Josh explains:

“We have an employer with 17 employees in a local company. In 2013, they paid $98,000 for their health insurance. By the end of 2014, they were paying $48,000 because of how we helped restructure their plan in combination with us.”

Of course Atlas MD isn’t the only clinic who can offer these types of savings – it’s a DPC thing. Dr. Ryan Neuhofel of Neucare gives an example of the savings his Direct Care practice can offer in the way of affordability.

“I also recently managed a forearm fracture in an uninsured patient for a total cost of $45 ($10 for a splint, $25 for an X-ray, and $10 for cast a few days later).”

The savings are everywhere – even in prescription medications. We talked about that a while back, remember? Many Direct Care clinics have an in-house pharmacy which not only makes things incredibly convenient for the patient, but brings wholesale prices to the forefront. That’s right – prescription medications at wholesale prices. Oh, and if the DPC clinic can’t offer you the prescription in-house, they’ll probably send you out the door with a @GoodRx coupon for additional savings at the pharmacy.

They say there is strength in numbers. With Direct Primary Care, we also find the truth.

Posted by: AtlasMD

February 13, 2015

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Business Insider: Why Your Doctor is Always Late.

Twenty minutes goes fast. Really fast.

So fast, in fact, that in the blink of a eye 20 minutes will vanish in the course of an already busy day. It takes a lot to stay on schedule in 20 minute increments, and only a little to throw a string of 20 minute time slots completely off course. (Pee fast!)

Welcome to the life of a physician who begins her day knowing there’s a very high probability her timeliness will derail halfway through the morning.

In a recent article published on Business Insider, “Dr. Tardy” outlines part of her day, giving examples of the types of patients she sees and the time it takes to care for them well. Through the interruptions, mishaps, and even some unexpected generous gaps to make up for lost time, she demonstrates that real patient care can’t be scheduled in 20 minute slots.

Dr. Tardy explains that she tries her hardest to “do the right thing for her patients, tries to take the time to listen without making them feel rushed.” And maybe that’s true. But what if she didn’t have to try so hard? Think how different her day would be if she knew she had 45 minutes (at least!) with each patient. If, when she needed to call a patient to explain the urgency behind an impending trip to the ER, that call wasn’t interfering with her next patient.

Hmmm… Dr. Tardy needs to be introduced to Direct Primary Care, where patient care is put above all else. The thing is, traditional medical practices say that, too – that patients come first. At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words, which is why the DPC business model is built around patient care rather than patients being squeezed into an impossibly tight schedule in a feeble attempt to keep their doors open.

In a world where a patient being 15 minutes late doesn’t derail the day, Dr. Tardy could change her name to Dr. Timely.

Read the full article over here on Business Insider. >

Posted by: AtlasMD

December 19, 2014

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If Not Your Doc, Who CAN You Trust?

We hate to hear stories like the one Dr. Frances told recently over at Kevin.md. The picture he paints about his friend who has been the unfortunate victim of not only cancer, but “community” treatment mishaps leaves only one word in our minds.

Chaos.

And that is not the ideal word you want to use to describe healthcare. According to Dr. Frances, several of those mishaps could have easily been prevented if someone were just paying attention to the patient instead of his results. Among these mistakes? The patient was prescribed meds that clashed and is no longer able to participate in lung cancer studies because alternative treatments (also prescribed by his docs) compromised his kidneys.

Dr. Frances has had it up to here. Read more

KevinMD: Setting the Record Straight

Dr. Neuhofel, family physician and owner of NeuCare Family Medicine is ready to set the record straight. He took the time to tackle a few of the most widely spread rumors, including affordability and Dr. shortage.

Myth #1: DPC is Too Expensive

  • Many DPC clinics were founded to help those who were struggling to afford care through traditional healthcare.
  • “Concierge” doesn’t mean “high priced.” Rather, most DPC clinics charge on the lower end of the retainer spectrum, landing somewhere in the $30-50/month range.
  • Savings are passed back to the patient in more ways than one: “discounts on labs, diagnostic testing, medications, procedures and more.”

“Just last week, I was able to provide nine doses of sumatriptan to a new patient for $8.12. She had previously been paying more than $100 per month through her insurance for the same amount of the drug.”

Read more

A Better Home for Traditional Docs

It’s not that physicians of traditional primary care don’t know what they’re doing. It’s not that they’re bad at their jobs. It’s not that they don’t care about their patients, or are incapable of making eye contact during an appointment.

The problem with how traditional docs perform is a result of something much worse.

It’s an environment that allows talent to be used at less than its full potential. It’s knowledge being hidden behind a wall of rules that prevents it from shining through. It’s a flawed system that spends so much time communicating internally that it can’t effectively communicate to those who need it most: patients.

Physicians in a traditional healthcare setting went through medical school just like the rest. They have what it takes. They got into the business to help people, but the setting they find themselves in is more conducive to sticking with the red tape rather than sticking it to the red tape. And that means paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork.

Many docs have already found a better home. One that puts them in control and gives them the kind of life they dreamed of in med school. One that serves their patients by providing them proactive healthcare and time. Ahh, time. Life under this roof challenges them to be better, think outside the box, and push their own limits. This life they’ve found? It doesn’t revolve around paperwork.

The Direct Care movement is in full swing, and it’s calling those physicians who feel… stuck. Disillusioned. Trapped. But it’s also calling physicians who feel invigorated, entrepreneurial, and inspired.

There’s room for everyone here.

Getting Patients to Take Their Meds is a Work in Progress.

A while back, we told you about a new method aimed at getting patients to take their meds – this one revolved around video games. But gaming isn’t a motivator for everyone, and researchers are trying to find the trouble spot surrounding the lack of adherence to doctor’s orders.

Dr. Steve Leuck, PharmD is a pharmacist and founder of AudibleRx. Dr. Leuck is excited that more research is being done to get to the bottom of the issue, but he thinks success might revolve around patient education.

“When patients understand why they are taking their medications, and importantly, what the consequences are of not taking their medication, they are much more likely to be adherent to their pharmaceutical regimen,” he said.

The studies that have already been conducted looking at things like utilizing pill box organizers, having the pharmacist talk to the patient about the medication, text reminders, even web-based support. But a lot of variance in how the studies were conducted and the sheer lack of studies in general prevented them from coming to any conclusions we can run with.

The case isn’t cracked… yet. But those in the field aren’t done trying.  Read more

Posted by: AtlasMD

November 25, 2014

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Disillusioned Physicians Learn about DPC.

It doesn’t take long for the true colors of healthcare’s current condition to shine through.

“I’ve only been in practice for a year and I’m already disillusioned,” said Levis. “I think we spend more of our time doing paperwork than we spend taking care of people. I’m here to explore this concept of direct primary care and learn about its viability.” – Erika Levis, M.D., of Pleasant Hill, Iowa

Levis, along with nearly 40 other family physicians from around the country recently gathered for a workshop to learn everything they could about Direct Primary Care. Many of them had questions about how they could make the model work for them. They quickly learned they had options – that the model is flexible and with some hard work and research, they could make their practice exactly what they’d always dreamed of. Angela Kerschner, MD is already taking advantage of this versatility. Read more

The Right People are Asking the Right Questions.

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It’s a great time in healthcare.

Not only because more and more Direct Primary Care practices are popping up all over the country. Not only because patients are spreading the word about how DPC is working for them. And not only because now more than ever, doctors actually want to practice medicine.

There’s another reason why it’s such a great time to be in healthcare amid swirling chaos in the form of health insurance, doctor burnout and misinformation.

Medical students are asking for DPC training. 

And what’s better, the DPC community is willing to teach it.  Read more

Medium.com: Sharing is the Future of Healthcare

Susannah Fox sheds light on something so many people take for granted in her recent article for Medium.com. Sharing.

Time is of the Essence.

Fox shares a story of a patient with a very rare condition who took it upon herself to track her medications’ interactions. It’s because of this she was able to refuse a certain prescribed medications that could have been lethal to her. When met with resistance from the prescribing doctor, she had to defend herself against the argument that, “for 20 years he has been telling all his patients to take it and no one else has ever complained.”

The particularly frightening portion of this story is that the physician prescribed without checking how the medications would interact with each other. Equally disturbing is that he then challenged the patient, attempting to coerce her into submission.

Maybe he had a reason for doing what he did. Maybe he didn’t have the time to do his research. Maybe he was in a rush to get to his next patient. Who knows.

But that sigh of relief you just heard? That came from all the Direct Primary Care physicians out there who don’t have to worry about such things as rushing from one patient to the next, or not having time to do research. Because the DPC model is not reliant upon meeting quotas, making a certain amount of money, or owing anything to big pharma. Read more