Big changes can grow from the smallest shift. Could an emerging trend toward direct primary care spark a seismic shift in patient care, access and affordability?
It might be too early to tell, but as primary care doctors seek to regain independence from system and insurance-dominated clinics, the movement is gaining both traction patients and notice from industry observers.
Kaiser Health News recently featured St. Luke’s, a direct primary care clinic in California which is delivering care to a wide-range of clients, from high-earners to recent immigrants looking for independent, personalized care.
“There’s nobody coming in here and looking or telling us what we should or shouldn’t do,” said Dr. Erin Kiesel, one of St. Luke’s family doctors.
In the direct primary care model, patients pay a monthly or annual fee in exchange for enhanced access via phone, text or video, shorter wait times and longer face-to-face visits. The practices generally don’t accept insurance, thus eliminating the need to chase bills and treatment authorizations.
Direct Primary Care practices are seen as a direct response to systemic U.S. health care problems including physician burnout, patient dissatisfaction and the fact that millions still lack care.
Roughly 200 direct primary care practices start up each year in the United States, and there are currently 1,581 of them employing an estimated 3,000 doctors, according to Dr. Philip Eskew, founder of DPC Frontier, which provides resources for doctors who want to make the switch.
It’s not just a coastal phenomenon. NOVO Health recently featured the direct primary care model in a recent podcast featuring a Madison, Wis.- based primary care physician. Listen to the podcast at https://novohealth. com/novo-live-the-podcast-episode-3/
Walmart launches an effort to help with health care costs for self-funded employers
Walmart has been an active player in developing low-cost health care options for both employees and consumers for many years. Now, they are looking to add employers as customers of those solutions.
In October, Walmart announced a collaboration with Transcarent to share Walmart’s low cost on pharmaceuticals and other services with self-insured employers and their employees for the first time.
The collaboration makes it easier for millions of employees and the families of self-insured employers to access high-value care — no matter where they live. This new offering will allow employers of all sizes to leverage Walmart’s health care size and scale to provide their employees convenient care and cost-effective health and wellness options more easily.
In addition to Walmart prescription benefits, Transcarent’s health and care experience will serve as the on-ramp for self-insured employers and their employees to a 24/7 personalized health and care experience.