What is direct primary care?

direct primary care

The direct primary care (DPC) model is essentially a payment model where, for a defined set of primary care services, a family physician is paid periodically rather than in a fee-for-service insurance billing. This periodic payment can be monthly, quarterly or yearly, depending on the agreement between the family and the doctor. This model can be used anywhere where there’s a direct contract between patients and medical health professionals as a replacement for the traditional third-party insurance coverage.

The primary care services this periodic fee covers will include all clinical and lab costs, consultative services, comprehensive care management and coordination. However, most direct primary care models do not account for emergencies, so they tend to be exclusive of such costs.

How Does Direct Primary Care Work?

Direct primary care has only grown in popularity after it started in the mid-2000s, largely due to the increasing confusion regarding health insurance, which was not only confusing but also quite expensive. Patients who didn’t have health insurance or those who were sick of spending so much on it saw direct primary care as the way to afford basic healthcare.

Since this is a direct contract between patient and doctor, there are no insurance providers involved in the process. So instead of paying monthly health insurance premiums, patients choose to pay monthly fees directly to their doctor in exchange for basic primary healthcare.

However, like any model, the DPC also has its pros and cons, and if you’re thinking about opting for this model, it may be well worth your time to take a look at the following benefits and drawbacks of direct primary care.

Benefits of Direct Primary Care

  • Enduring Doctor-Patient Relationships

One of the hallmarks of the DPC model is the enduring relationships between patients and doctors. Compared to an average fee-for-service primary care practice, a direct primary care practice has much fewer patients to see per day.

Since doctors have much fewer patients to deal with, they can give each of their patients more time and energy and therefore develop more lasting relationships with them. They tend to know their patients by name since they see around 10 patients in a day as opposed to 30. So much of the patient interaction is electronic now, which makes it even easier on the doctors and leads to less burnout.

As a result of DPC doctors having more time on their hands, patients end up receiving better care, which leaves both parties satisfied.

  • DPC Offers Upfront Pricing

Direct primary care practices offer transparent, upfront pricing, with a monthly payable amount that covers unlimited visits to the clinic for primary care services. To be prepared for emergencies, patients are urged to buy complementary health insurance plans but most DPC physicians tend not to accept insurance.

  • Convenience and Accessibility

Direct primary care patients usually have access to next-day and even same-day visits with 30–60-minute appointments. On top of that, patients have the option to call, text, email or even video chat with their physician any time during the day, thereby making the waiting room obsolete. In other words, patients have full access to a healthcare professional at all times, all just for the monthly fee they pay. 

This full-time accessibility is not offered by regular doctors mostly because it’s difficult to bill phone calls or other such means of getting consultations. 

  • Specialist Availability

Direct primary care physicians will usually have a large circle of highly qualified physicians and experienced specialists who can be accessed easily if such a need arises. So it takes away that worry too, of whether or not you’ll be able to see a specialist in time if you need more than primary care.

Patients can get consultations from specialists in a matter of days and sometimes even same-day consultations can be made. It saves you the hassle of finding and making appointments with other doctors. But in-person visits with specialists will cost above what you pay in the monthly fee. 

Disadvantages of Direct Primary Care

  • You Will Still Need an Insurance Plan

While primary care consultations are all covered by the monthly amount you pay, emergencies remain unaccounted for. This means your need for insurance still exists. Any additional testing, procedures, medications will require you to pay in addition to the monthly payment you make. 

This means that you will need some sort of an insurance plan along with your DPC. 

  • DPC Membership Doesn’t Count Toward a Deductible

Currently, the direct primary care monthly membership fee is recognized as a “health plan” by the IRS. Therefore, it’s not eligible to be considered a deductible which means you will have to pay for it out of your pocket if you carry high deductibles in health insurance as well. 

Is Direct Primary Care Worth It?

For families with young children or elderly patients, getting in touch with a physician on an urgent basis is a huge plus. Since direct primary care allows for 24/7 phone calls, texts, emails and the like, it will be the understandable choice for such families. People who travel frequently will also appreciate the quickness of consultation that the DPC model provides. 

On the flip side, however, because direct primary care memberships are usually exclusive of insurance, they may not be a good choice for people who require more than just primary care every month. So, people who have complex medical issues may not prefer DPC. DPC is best for patients who are generally in good health, and only need visits to the doctor for general upkeep and routine checkups.

So if you are generally in good health and you want to cut down on costs associated with physicals, lab tests and other routine visits, looking into DPC may be a financially wise decision.

If you are looking for a Direct Primary Care Membership, visit us and learn more about how it will work for you.

What is Neonatal Telehealth: How It Has Transformed Neonatal Health ?

Giving birth is no small feat and it can often be a very stressful experience for mothers, even more so if they lack access to neonatal care. A lot of birthing facilities tend not to have onsite neonatal care resources, so if the baby is born preterm or with low birth weight, immediate care for the mother and the child is sometimes unavailable.

The worst-case scenario in these conditions can be fatal. In-person assistance and the transportation of babies and the mother to neonatal facilities can be costly for healthcare providers and stressful for the mother and baby.

This is where neonatal telehealth comes in. Healthcare providers can have neonatal specialists be in constant contact with the patient, providing remote consultation for infant care using live video and audio.

What Is Telehealth?

Telemedicine or telehealth is the remote delivery of healthcare services as well as medical information using telecommunication technology. The model for this kind of service is known as a hub-and-spoke model, meaning there is one center that imparts information and services to several communities, houses, and hospitals.

Telemedicine has two major branches, one of them deals with issues in real-time, known as synchronous telemedicine. The other deals with store-and-forward type issues like data transfer from one facility to another for examination or remote patient monitoring programs that send data to healthcare providers on a daily-basis for follow-up.

Telemedicine aims to increase access to medical information in addition to expert care for all patients, even those who are geographically distant from a medical facility. The importance of telehealth has truly been felt after the coronavirus pandemic hit and the need for social distancing became imperative.

With so many people unable to visit doctors for minor as well as major health issues, telehealth has seemed like a godsend, as patients have been able to recover without physical medical assistance.

The Increase in Neonatal Telehealth

Neonatal health is extremely important because a significant number of newborns need to be stabilized post-birth for health reasons. Around 10% of newborns even require assistance in breathing to survive.

Using innovative technology and telehealth practices, most hospitals and medical facilities are now able to offer virtual clinical services to patients for a host of health issues, ranging from psychiatric, gastrointestinal, and even speech therapy. E-consultations have become a huge thing recently and their help is often targeted towards cardiology and neonatal patients.

Telehealth allows the patient and the healthcare expert to be in direct, high-definition visual contact. This allows pediatricians and neonatologists to easily see the breathing of the infant, their skin pigmentation, and make accurate assessments of the infant’s blood pressure.

In this way, telehealth allows for greater defense against life-threatening events that are often associated with childbirth.

Services Provided in Neonatal Telehealth

Major neonatal telehealth services include, but are in no way limited to, the following:

  •     Remote daily rounds,
  •     Consults and assists with diagnoses,
  •     Review of lab results, CT scans, and X-rays,
  •     Thorough patient assessments

Future of Telehealth in Neonatology

Since it has been around for a while now, telemedicine has developed more proactive models of caring for critical patients and even have an eICU for them.

An eICU consists of ICU nurses and intensivists who deal with several ICU locations, providing both consultations and hands-on instructions on how to care for the critically ill.

They make use of algorithms and video technology to care for remote patients more proactively. Telemedicine programs each differ in their design, workflow, and even the evaluation of outcomes.

Because it is a booming industry in healthcare technology right now, telemedicine is bound to continue well into the future as well. It has shown that delivering higher patient outcomes and improving family-centered care is a job that it can handle quite well, especially for populations that would otherwise be unable to receive such expert care.

This has the added benefit of patients undergoing specialized procedures and examinations without having to stress about traveling to receive these services. In the future, however, recruiting the best neonatal nurses will be a difficult job due to the fierce competition that will arise.

Nurses will not only need to be highly qualified but also be extremely tech-savvy to keep up with the rapid advancements in medicine. Therefore, knowledge about the technology being used will have to be stellar. This challenge may not be as daunting for millennial nurses though as these generations have been growing up on technology and it seems to come very naturally to them.

The future of telemedicine looks promising because it not only helps remote and unreachable patients but also because it reduces costs by a margin.

Learn more about how neonatal telehealth can benefit you here.

How can telemedicine help with Flu season?

telemedicine and flu

Telemedicine and the Flu Season

Telemedicine is the latest advent in the healthcare industry and arguably is also the need of the hour. With flu season now in full swing in many parts of the world one is reminded to still be careful when it comes to the flu. With the flu, people need to question themselves whether stepping near a hospital or a clinic is necessary or not.
“Do I need to be here?” “Should I be here this close and personal to other diseases?” “Is my poor health going to make me more at-risk than I already am?”
These are all important questions, and chances are that their answers are probably telling you to stay at home. This is where Telemedicine comes into play.

Can Telemedicine Diagnose Flu?

Telemedicine can generally be used to diagnose any disease. With the flu, how this works is that a doctor will have a virtual consultation with the patient and then after observing the patient’s symptoms they will provide an appropriate treatment plan.
Telemedicine in general has a lot of benefits. For example, it makes doctors and medical advice more available for the average patient. However, strictly in the context of the flu, there are also multiple benefits of telemedicine:

1. Reduces Unnecessary Contact for Patients

Flu patients are already weak and have compromised immune systems as is. With the help of telemedicine, the patient does not need to travel away from the comfort of their homes and will be able to get a virtual consultation with the help of telemedicine facilities. This will help the patient reserve what little energy they already have.
Moreover, with the pandemic still in full swing, patients that have the flu are more at risk of contracting the coronavirus as their immune systems are somewhat compromised.
Therefore, by staying at home and quarantining they are saving themselves by not being at risk. When a sick patient travels to the clinic they will increase their chances of contacting someone who is a carrier of the virus. The coronavirus combined with severe flu poses a vast amount of challenges and complications for the patient.

2. Saves Time

The amount of time it takes for the patient to travel from their home to the clinic, book an appointment, and then spend hours waiting, can all be significantly reduced with the help of telemedicine.
Patients can book their appointments from the comfort of their homes, take their consultations in their beds, and nullify the waiting time altogether. This will provide them with ample time to rest and recover.

3. Saves Money

Not everyone lives near a clinic and for some people, the cost of travel is often equal to the cost of the consultation. With the help of telemedicine, there will be no need for travel and therefore the patient will be able to save their money and resources. This money can then be spent on ensuring that they get the best treatment possible.

4. Reduces Stress for Patients

The environment of a crowded hospital waiting room and the stress that it brings can prove to be very damaging for the mental peace of a flu patient. Moreover, there is always the fear that they will be unable to get their consultation in time, that they won’t be able to reach the clinic in time, or that they might not even be able to afford the fare from their house to the hospital.
All of these stresses are reduced with the help of telemedicine and the patient can then receive peace of mind. That ensures that amidst the chaos of the world around them they can at least rest when they need to most.

5. Reduces Resources to be Spent per Patient

When the hospital does not have to account for the costs of having patients physically come in it will prove to be very beneficial for the organization as well. The nurses won’t have to spend time noting down the medical history, the hospital wouldn’t have to accommodate for extra equipment, the hospital would also be able to account for more patients. This is because with the help of telemedicine you do not necessarily have to follow traditional clinic hours and patients can be given consultations at any time of the day. Therefore, more patients can be catered to overall.

6. Can be Used to Contact Specialists

Sometimes patients live in remote faraway areas and it becomes difficult for them to contact a doctor that can provide them with the right advice. This is incredibly true in the case of patients that require specialists. For example, if a patient has a complicated medical history it will be best for them to be treated by someone who has a strong grasp of their condition.
Moreover, this will also allow patients to remain in contact with their family doctors; doctors who are aware of their long medical history and can reach an accurate treatment plan much more quickly.
These benefits combined with the convenience of telemedicine make it easier for doctors and patients to combat flu season. With the world moving towards technology it seems telemedicine is the future.