Every story has a beginning and this is Direct Medical Care’s…
Summer of 2013 was a major crossroads for me professionally as a primary care physician. I contemplated where I wanted to take my career and ultimately weighed the three options I had–traditional, overseas, or private practice.
Option 1: Stay in the traditional insurance based practice set-up where the focus was on insurance and its reimbursements rather than the patient. A system that reimbursed by not only the number of patients seen but by the amount of unnecessary details I put in the patient’s office note. I was expected to spend more and more of my time with regulatory compliance rather than patient care. A visit about a broken toe required a discussion about end-of-life wishes, exercise goals, and smoking cessation. The system was not ideal and job satisfaction poor, but the guaranteed income and sense of security was comforting.
Option 2: Overseas medicine was very attractive to me. What better way to escape the day-to-day battles of practicing traditional medicine in America than to go overseas? The opportunity to experience a new system, different culture, and grand adventures was thrilling–it was Australia after all. My family was all on board with the idea but the details in that reality were overwhelming. We would not get financially rich nor secure but sure to be rich with experiences.
Option 3: To embark on private practice under the direct primary care model–a concierge practice for the masses. Opening up a private practice as such was a huge risk. The financial outlay was significant and with student loans still to be paid, additional debt was daunting. The projected struggle to pay for staff and overhead for the first 18-24 months added to that debt burden. Concerns definitely existed for going against the status quo and expecting individuals to be open to a cash based practice. No wonder the whole idea was perceived as ludicrous by many, but the ability to truly care for patients and the professional satisfaction that would be derived from that was not to be overlooked. Add to that the ability to decrease the healthcare costs for individuals and their families–it really was exciting to ponder.
I literally stood with three distinct paths to choose from–each had its pros and cons. Was it the encounter along the running trail, the passerby at the grocery store, or the facebook message from a patient expressing their desire to see me stay in the community as their doctor? Most likely all of them, as I truly wanted to care for the people and the community that I had come to love–not to mention great staff that wanted the same. The only viable and honest way to do that was by employing the Direct Primary Care model.
I am now one and a half years down the path and I have more conviction now that what I am doing is the right thing in the interest of true healthcare reform. It is exciting and scary times in healthcare and we are happy to be moving forward as Direct Medical Care.
Ann Riggs, DO
Patient-Driven Affordable Healthcare