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    Uncertainty in healthcare driving DPC growth


    Qliance, which operates seven clinics, including one that exclusively serves Seattle firefighters, says its innovative approach has increased patient satisfaction, improved outcomes and driven down costs. The company points to an analysis of insurance claims data for 4,000 Qliance patients covered by employer benefit plans showing they had 27% fewer emergency room visits, 60% fewer inpatient hospital days and 20% fewer claims than non-Qliance patients working for the same employers.   


    In case you missed it: Obamacare is severely holding DPC back from succeeding


    Studies of other direct primary care practices show similar results, confirming that access to personalized and accessible primary care can keep people healthier while lowering health care costs.

    Nextera Healthcare, Colorado’s first direct primary care provider, evaluated the effectiveness of DPC membership for employees and dependents of one of its self-insured clients, DigitalGlobe. It found reductions of 25.4% in claims costs and 4.7% in risk scores for the 205 employees and dependents who enrolled in the employer’s DPC program.

    Physicians like DPC because it helps them cut overhead costs, including the cost of processing insurance claims. It also gives them more time to do what they were trained to do—care for patients. Patients get greater access to care since physicians who practice under the DPC model typically have fewer patients than doctors in traditional insurance-based practices. DPC also strengthens the doctor-patient relationship, empowers patients and, as the studies have shown, improves patient health and wellbeing.

    Given the obvious benefits of the DPC model, both to patients and physicians, it’s perhaps somewhat surprising that the direct primary care model has such a small, albeit growing, footprint in the nation’s healthcare universe.

    One reason is the regulatory obstacles that thwart access to direct primary care. In the debate over health care, policymakers would do well to recognize that eliminating those barriers would be one way to improve access to care, help slash costs and go a long way toward improving the health of millions of Americans.

    DPC may not be the best option for all patients or practices, however, it is one path forward as we look to reconstruct the nation’s healthcare system away from fee-for-service and toward value-based payment. Supporting primary care with a better payment system and getting off the fee-for-service hamster wheel is in everyone’s best interest.


    Glen Stream, MD, MBI, FAAFP, a family physician practicing in La Quinta, California, is past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He serves as the president and board chair of Family Medicine for America’s Health.

    Glen Stream, MD, FAAFP, MBI
    Dr. Glen Stream, a family physician practicing in La Quinta, California, is past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. ...


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