Direct primary care: The key to cost savings and improved health?

Decades ago, when a patient was too sick to go to the doctor’s office, the doctor made a house call. Though this practice seems old-fashioned now, most people would agree that the current system often leaves much to be desired. The exception could be the emerging concept of direct primary care and integrated health.
These days, when someone gets sick, they call their primary care doctor and, sometimes days later, they have a 15-minute appointment, which leaves little time to ask difficult questions or build a connection. The current system also does little to connect various different physicians, nurses, imaging centers, hospitals and beyond to each other, making the health care journey less efficient, less personal and more costly. A more personalized health care experience could improve the health and well-being of most people—and save employers money. Direct primary care could help us get there.
In a traditional primary care approach, an employee goes to their primary care physician for a preventive checkup. The physician’s office bills the actual cost of the visit to insurance, plus additional testing that many be needed, or referral to a specialist. Multiply these visits by 100 to 1,000 employees and dependents and the costs add up. While primary care should the first line of defense for plans and their employees, direct primary care offers a more integrated health care experience that eliminates the fee for service billing model and allows employers to have a predictable fixed cost for a bulk of their plan member visits.
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