• By grace_health
  • May 1 2021

Here’s a radical concept. What if we cut the cost of primary care by 80%? What if we slashed avoidable ER visits and hospitalizations by…

Here’s a radical concept. What if we cut the cost of primary care by 80%?

What if we slashed avoidable ER visits and hospitalizations by 50%, by giving people direct access to their primary care doctor? I mean DIRECT access, not just a phone tree that gets you an appointment three weeks out?

What if you could have hour-long visits with your primary care doctor and actually get to the root of your medical concerns?

What if medical debt disappeared, because basic healthcare became affordable again?

A world where you have access to your doctor, time with them, and are understood as a whole person—without the big fees currently surrounding medical care—seems so radical only because we’ve grown accustomed to a fundamentally broken system. But this bold new world of patient-centered, affordable care, isn’t some fantasy. It’s the world of Direct Primary Care.

It’s here. It’s new. It’s what I practice.
Does that make Direct Primary Care doctors, like me, radical?
Maybe. And I’m okay with that.

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Back up to 3 years ago, before I’d even considered giving up my stressful, 60+ hour-per-week insurance-paid primary care position—the usual way doctors work, and patients receive care, in our modern medical system.

I was a busy mom of three, who by all superficial measures, had reached the apex of my career. I was stressed, tired, and burned out, but on the surface, I had “made” it.

I saw an average of 18 patients per day, at an average of 15 minutes per patient. This was 45% of my day. The other 55% was spent behind a computer, filling out prior authorizations, medical billing, and insurance forms. I spent between 52-60% of my time on the computer —rather than with my patients. I knew these numbers exactly, because my time was measured down to the second by our electronic medical record, and compiled in a detailed report sent to me regularly by my employer.

My average day started at 7:30 in the morning, and ended around 8pm at night, 3 hours after my last patient left the building. Each hour of my time was valued at around $450. The average cost for a visit with me was $115. I was paid less than one quarter of this, although I did 90% of the work.

I did not set my own schedule. If I wanted longer time with a patient, I scheduled them before lunch, or at the end of the day, and worked into my personal time to give them the attention they needed. Scheduling an hour-long visit was not feasible, and I might have lost my job if I had insisted. It was significantly easier for me to prescribe thousands of dollars in stop-gap medications to treat uncontrolled diabetes, than to spend just one hour getting to the root of the issue with my patient.

Despite all these challenges, I was grateful, because I was still able to do the work I loved (sort of), support my family, and slowly pay down my more-than-$250,000 of medical student debt.

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Fast-forward to 2019. Exhausted, I finally quit the job I’d worked so hard for. I quit, because I was done trying to fix a broken system from within, and I had three small children who were growing up without their mother.

Then, I met a fellow mama-doctor who was doing what, at the time, seemed impossible. She was running her own solo medical practice, while raising a young family. And, she seemed to be not just surviving, but THRIVING.

I learned about Direct Primary Care. I was hooked. And I've never looked back.

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Fast forward to 2021, and I now run my own solo Direct Primary Care clinic.

My patients have my personal cell phone number, and my email address. When they call the office, they reach me directly, without phone trees or answering services. They only visit the ER, or hospital, for issues that I truly cannot treat in my office. And, my visits are as long as they need to be.

My patients don’t pay inflated retail rates for medications, labs or imaging, because I NEGOTIATE on my patients’ behalf down to realistic, affordable prices, often a 90% discount.

On my own now, I’m free to practice as my patients need me to practice…and I’m able to pass enormous cost-savings on to them, to make modern medicine actually accessible.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”--Buckminster Fuller

I’m hoping to start a conversation. I’m hoping to start it among physicians, among patients, and even with you.

If you’re ready to see how Direct Primary Care can lead you to better health, with lower costs, and no insurance needed, reach out. When you call, you’ll get me directly.



For Further Study: By The Numbers
Average United States per capita healthcare spend, 2019: $5,193 per year, or $14.23 per day
Average insurance deductible as of 2019: $1,655
Average membership at a Direct Primary Care Practice: $65 per month, or $2.13 per day
Average cost of an emergency room visit: $2,032
Amount that a Florida hospital system saved by switching their employees to DPC: 54%
In dollars: $1.2 million
Price for a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) lab test at Maine Medical Partners/NorDx: $190
At Grace Health: $10
Average length of a new patient visit at Maine Medical Partners: 30 minutes
At Grace Health: 90 minutes

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