"We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.."
On a recent trip, I came across this saying and it stood out to me. Healthcare is in a crazy place right now, and there are so many changes going on that it is hard to keep up. Healthcare is big business; bigger than it ever has been. And unlike most commodities that become more accessible with time and advancement, quality healthcare continues to remain largely inaccessible to most. Medications and tests need prior authorizations. The days of a physician deciding what medicine or test is needed by their patient is dictated by insurance companies, not by what is best for the patient. Referrals to specialists require weeks and sometimes even months to schedule. And through it all there is an increased level of depersonalization to the whole process.
I opened my Direct Primary Care practice almost 4 years ago and since then I have learned many things. Healthcare can be personal. You can spend time with patients. Develop relationships. Follow patients through difficult times, helping them navigate the often confusing maze of healthcare. See a reasonable number of patients, and at the end of the day return home to your family with the energy to enjoy them.
Physician satisfaction is at an all time low in all areas but especially in primary care, making it a difficult career choice for many. However, satisfaction in the DPC world is at some of the highest among all physician specialties and it shows. Patients frequently come in telling us that we look less stressed, appear more relaxed, and just seem more available. They also come back telling us how pleasantly spoiled they have become compared to being involved with the rest of the current healthcare system. A few patients have even remarked that their loved ones would not be alive today without the close scrutiny and hands on approach that a physician in a DPC setting can provide,
So, after almost 4 years, what does DPC mean to me? It means providing healthcare in a more involved manner than it has in the past. It means developing stronger relationships with patients and truly understanding their needs like never before. It means truly enjoying coming to work and returning home at the end of the day without the headache and feelings of burnout. DPC is a new and exciting frontier and it is fun being at the forefront of a movement that has the potential to change healthcare as we know it.
The winds of healthcare are changing, and not necessarily for the better. But there is a better way to provide primary care. All we have to do is adjust our sails.