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Responsibility and Empowerment

Grace Torres-Hodges, DPM, MBA, FACPM, FASPS: In today's healthcare ecosystem, physicians and patients have opportunities in direct care but need to be made aware of them. Are you having conversations like this with them? If not, who will?

EMPOWERMENT

That’s a powerful term! It guides and lifts us up! But it does so by reaching something from within to shine and break through!

We have a broken healthcare system, but no one said that we have to put up with it. So why should we choose to stick with the status quo?

The brokenness of the system is like a disease, and I take to heart what the great Greek physician, Hippocrates, wrote in his First Book of Epidemics – Primum Non Nocere (First Do No Harm) – for me, that means clinically AND financially to my patients.

“I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment never to do harm to anyone.” – Hippocrates

Who says a patient can only see doctors in-network?
Who says a patient needs a referral to see a specialist?
Why is a prior authorization needed for a patient to get a prescription I prescribe?
Why must I justify my rationale for a diagnostic test I need to treat my patient?
At its core it is a matter of trust and respect. If a third party payor really has that little faith in my clinical judgment; then why should I contract with them. For that matter, what have they done to show that I should trust their judgment, their processes and their protocols?

Anything that gets between my ability to carry out the prescribed treatment plan for my patient is part of the problem and not part of the solution!

I ascribe and promote the direct care model for private practice because in my opinion it is the purest way to preserve the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship.

It deters and avoids interference by third parties by freeing the doctor and the office staff from extraneous administrative protocols as well as rules, regulations and wasted time that have no impact on the clinical care of the patient.

Empowered patients have the opportunity of choice.

Most direct care patients have health insurance, but many have high deductible plans. With price transparency, they can make an informed decision, they can budget, but most importantly, they can decide for themselves.

 

Most direct care patients have health insurance, but many have high deductible plans. With price transparency, they can make an informed decision, they can budget, but most importantly, they can decide for themselves. Click To Tweet

 

In direct care practices, there is an emphasis on outpatient care. Outpatient care is more proactive and preventative. Patient involvement makes one more accountable and that leads to healthier outcomes. There are significant savings too by steering care away from urgent care clinics or hospital admissions; it avoids overutilization of the more expensive services and clears the ERs for true emergencies.

The care can be delivered and completed. The method in which it is paid for is the patient’s decision. However, direct interaction with the doctor, rather than a corporation, is more personal and allows for more creative payment options such as bundled services and payment plans.

For any physician contemplating transitioning to this practice model – you don’t have to go “ all in” – you can “test the waters” and start hybrid.

 

For any physician contemplating transitioning to this practice model - you don’t have to go 'all in' – you can 'test the waters' and start hybrid. Click To Tweet

 

The beauty of the direct care model is that ANY doctor, lab or facility can participate, and all a patient has to do is just ask “What is your cash price?”

Doctors, we have been entrusted with the care of the individual in front of us. We have been taught to observe, analyze and make recommendations to treat our patients — are you having conversations like this with them? If not, who will?

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