Virtual Home Medicine in Direct Primary Care
Hi, thank you for reading! My name is Dr. Jeff O’Boyle. I am a board certified family medicine physician. My clinic, Beyond Primary Care is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In this post I am answering a common question that I receive, and that is how does Direct Primary Care (DPC) take care of it’s members with virtual home medicine? Virtual home medicine, also referred to as telemedicine, is a where you connect with your doctor via phone or computer’s webcam without physically being in the doctor’s office.
The Exception rather than the Rule
Why is it nearly impossible to get a doctor to talk with you over the phone in a timely fashion? Because because certain services like virtual home medicine are typically not be reimbursed by private insurance carriers and government payers. Nearly 40% of what we do in medical offices the patient doesn’t actually have to be there. But why are you there? That is the only way for doctors in a fee-for-service system to get reimbursed for your care, is to actually make the patient physically come in to the brick-and-mortar office to be seen- no matter how routine (eg- common cold, urinary tract infection) or obscure (filling-out paperwork for FMLA or work) the visit seems.
Standard of Care with DPC
Under the DPC model of care, we naturally provide such care – yet another freedom we enjoy together as a result of our independence from the restrictions of third-party payment. As noted by this Forbes article, telemedicine pairs well with DPC. Since DPC has opted out of insurance contracts altogether, and we contract directly with you, the patient. DPC offers our patients around-the-clock access to primary care medical needs in exchange for an average fee of $50-75 per month. Phone calls, emails, texts, FaceTime- are included in a patient’s membership. Patient are routinely connected with their doctors within minutes to hours when reaching out, versus days to weeks with fee-for-service doctors.
Benefits of Virtual Home Medicine
One of the defining characteristics of DPC is that we keep our practices small so we can spend more time with our patients. Because we have the increased time in our visits to know you well, we can streamline your care when you’re sick away from home or even at home. Many illnesses can be diagnosed and treated with a simple conversation by phone or computer webcam.
Say you are traveling out of state and feel sick. You have access to a conversation with your DPC doctor from your pocket. We will discuss your symptoms, discuss management, then we’ll locate the nearest pharmacy and order the medications most appropriate for your present circumstances.
As a doctor, there have been times where I have seen patients- with just the act of walking from the waiting room to the examination room- get winded or experience excruciating pain. Why would doctor offices allow this? Where is the concept ‘first, do no harm?’ If you are local, often times the DPC doctor may deliver the medications right to your address, saving you the hassle of a trip that may potentially worsen the condition.
Curbside Referral Consult
Adding more value the DPC membership at no additional cost to our patients is many DPC practices participate with electronic consults, or online consultations for speciality care. Primary care can handle nearly 80-90% of all medical conditions, but there are times when a condition may be past our scope of practice. Instead of rushing the patient to the nearest specialist, which will result in a bill likely through the patient’s insurance, many DPC practices seek medical advice on behalf of our patients through an online service call RubiconMD. Through this online service, many DPC practices pay a monthly fee where we can get medical advice on behalf of our patients from more than 100 medical specialities. The company guarantees a response time within twelve hours. The DPC physician fills out the necessary forms, get’s the response through the RubiconMD service, then will pass this medical information onto the patient- at no cost!