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Why Quality Employee Healthcare at Low Costs is Gaining Popularity in ABQ

Well Life ABQ

February 23, 2022

Why Quality Employee Healthcare at Low Costs is Gaining Popularity in ABQ

Well Life ABQ
February 23, 2022

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - The answer for affordable and ideal employee healthcare remains a mystery for most employers. Primary care, the main building block in any healthcare system, faces many challenges. These challenges include clinician burnout and providing quality care at a lower cost. Low compensations for primary care providers also remain a reason for clinician shortage. 

Putting together high-quality health services for a lower and affordable cost is as difficult as it gets, for example, getting health insurance for employees small business

Direct primary care (DPC) faces these challenges head-on. Direct primary care came up with solutions to achieve balance. Now everyone can choose to enjoy quality health services for less.

Here’s a glimpse of how the DPC does it. Clinician burnout and low pay? DPC responds by engaging more clinicians and providers. Moreover,  DPC decreases the number of patients or lowers the patient panel. Fewer patients mean less administrative work and thus shorter work hours. Thus, fewer chances for primary care provider shortage.

Direct primary care attempts to give solutions. These solutions result in happy doctors and happy patients. A harmonious patient-doctor relationship is of utmost importance for better health outcomes.

What Is Direct Primary Care for Employee Healthcare

Direct primary care is a novel and evolving approach towards helping employers and the working population get high-quality health services at an affordable cost. It has the following features:

  1. A membership fee. It is usually in the form of a fixed premium recurring monthly which covers most or all primary-care related services offered. This monthly fee ranges from 40 to 80 USD per person.
  2. Smaller patient panels. Patients usually range from 200 to 600 people per direct primary care clinic. In this manner, patients are sure to have access to the services that they need.
  3. Patients are not charged with out-of-pocket amounts beyond the set retainer’s fee.
  4. Third-party providers are not billed based on a fee-for-service model for the services rendered.
  5. Direct primary care providers contract with patients and/or employers. No other person or institution is included.
  6. Patients have better access to their primary care providers because of the smaller number of patient panels.
  7. Patients get to have longer and more meaningful time spent at the clinic. This enables the primary care provider to efficiently diagnose and address the patient’s needs.

Direct primary care became the answer to solve the crisis of the heavily burdened healthcare system. The current system struggles with poor patient-doctor relationships secondary to a large number of patients under the care of the traditioimary care clinic. 

The current system also grapples with clinician burnout. The low compensation of primary care providers is a probable contributor. Administrative burden further leading to longer work hours is also a huge factor. This is especially because it may no longer be reimbursable.

Moreover, the current healthcare system suffers from a shortage of primary care providers because more medical students are no longer encouraged to practice medicine. Low pay rates and the tiresome administrative burden are often cited as the primary reasons. The shortage of primary care providers will lead to more burnout and thus, poor patient care.

How Much Does Primary Care Cost?

Direct primary care gives the right value for one’s hard-earned money by providing the best services at a given premium. According to a survey, these are the usual premiums per age group:

  • Children: $40
  • Adults aged 19–24: $65
  • Adults aged 25–50: $75
  • Adults aged 51–64: $80
  • Adults aged 65 and over: $85
  • Families: $150

The worth of direct primary care is not always attached to its affordable price tag. DPC prides itself in a better healthy patient-doctor relationship which is not a feature of traditional primary care. 

A healthy patient-doctor relationship is one of the best facets of direct primary care. This type of relationship results in better patient compliance and proactivity in terms of health and wellbeing.

For instance, direct primary care providers spend quality time with their patients in 40 minutes on average. This contrasts with the average clinic visit which takes only about 15 minutes per patient. This alone is already a huge difference that can have a positive impact on the overall wellness of an individual, and how they will continue to take care of it. A productive clinic visit can result in  accurate laboratory workup, right diagnosis, and right medications. This alone enables the end-user to enjoy savings from unnecessary lab workups and medications.

Annual check-ups, lab visits, and even home visits further solidify doctor-patient interaction. This results further in better compliance with medications and overall therapy. Direct primary care encourages the right way to practice preventive medicine. 

Including preventive medicine in a healthcare package begets healthier patients, healthier employees, better employers, and thus, a better economy. In direct primary care, primary care is being packaged and distributed directly to employers and consumers by the direct primary care clinic themselves. And that includes preventive medicine.

Another highlight: For a fixed and affordable premium, there is an available basic illness management which covers both acute and chronic conditions. Even if the patient needs to visit another clinician from a specific specialty, he does not go out of the clinic empty-handed. Because of his membership, initial management is carried out along with care coordination.

And not just that – interfacility coordination is part of the package. Does one know how much an interhospital referral costs? Referrals are usually where surprise medical bills happen. It is very vital to include the costs that come with care coordination, and that is one of the things that direct primary care proudly brings to the table. Direct primary care creates a network of services covering multiple specialties, and seamlessly coordinates the patient from one specialty to another without additional hidden costs. 

All these, for the price of one fixed premium, recurring monthly. Talk about convenience!

Is Direct Primary Care Worth It?

Aside from monetary gain in the form of savings, direct primary care gives both the provider and the patient a satisfying experience. It is not just important to excel in terms of patient satisfaction – a happy and content doctor on board is also paramount for overall patient welfare.

With limited patient panels, clinicians are no longer overworked yet underpaid. Burnout rates go lower, and thus, the quality of primary care services rendered will be at the optimum. Clinicians value their rapport with their patients as this is key to the right diagnosis, treatment and management, and follow-up. Thus, clinicians who have been complaining about spending hours doing paperwork will no longer see this as an issue. Rest assured that inside the clinic, your doctor has their full attention on you and your condition!

A survey on clinicians engaged in direct primary care gave the following findings:

  1. Better overall (personal and professional) satisfaction
  2. Better ability in the practice of medicine
  3. Better quality of primary care
  4. Better relationships with primary care patients
  5. Lesser amount of time spent on paperwork
  6. Lesser amount of time spent at the office.

On another note, a survey conducted on physicians engaged in direct primary care clinics noted the following from their patients:

  1. Ease in terms of scheduling appointments with their direct primary care provider. The majority of patients report that they can schedule an appointment with their direct primary care provider within the day. Waiting time was equivalent to four minutes in the office for scheduled appointments to commence. After that, patients were noted to spend approximately 38 minutes with their direct primary care provider inside the clinic. 
  2. Ability of patients to access their electronic health records from their direct primary care provider through a patient portal. This innovation makes everything more convenient. This includes the ability to sign up and manage their enrollments online through their direct primary care provider’s website.
  3. Majority of the respondents expected the direct primary care model to improve patient satisfaction. It encouraged patients to independently, through their direct primary care provider, obtain necessary but nonprimary care services. In the process, patients enjoy lower to no out-of-pocket costs. Among the direct primary care program's consequences is increased patient compliance in terms of preventive care.

Takeaway

It is no longer a question of whether direct primary care is worth a consideration for everyone. It is clear that DPC directly solves issues pertaining to affordable, yet high-quality healthcare services coupled with improved patient and provider experience.

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