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Direct Primary Care Practices Meeting Needs in the Pandemic

Direct Primary Care Practices Meeting Needs in the Pandemic

Dr. Rebekah Bernard points out how Direct Care practices are well-positioned to help patients and communities during this Coronavirus pandemic in her article recently published in Medical Economics.

“The novel coronavirus (COVD-19) outbreak has created unprecedented challenges for physicians and patients across the health care system. . . . ”

“One group of doctors that seems to be riding out the storm better than most are direct primary care physicians. Direct primary care (DPC) is a practice model that allows more flexibility than traditional fee-for-service practices because physicians work directly for patients and eliminate third-party payers like Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies. Most DPC practices are set up as memberships, with patients paying a monthly fee to their doctor (averaging $77 per month) for all primary care health care services.”

Highlights include


“Unlike most primary care practices in the fee-for-service realm, many DPC practices are already set up to provide virtual office visits through telephone and video consults, as well as providing access by email and text message.”


“Deborah Sutcliffe, MD, a primary care DPC physician in Red Bluff, CA, shifted most of her patients to telemedicine due to California’s shelter-in-place order.  For the few patients that have required an in-office assessment, she feels that DPC has allowed her to provide a safer environment.”

Financial Flexibility

““Knowing that my practice is financially secure is something that would not have been possible four years ago,’ says Deborah Sutcliffe, MD. ‘I would have been torn between my own financial security and putting patients at risk by requiring an office visit so that I could bill for services and pay my employees and myself.'”

Satisfied Patients

“Linnea Meyer, MD, owner of Wellscape Direct MD in Boston, MA, has not had any membership cancellations. ‘Many have expressed how grateful they are to be members of a practice that already had everything in place for virtual visits. Many have said how reassured they have been to be able to reach me easily and get a quick response.'”

Practice Autonomy

“While the DPC model provides an abundance of benefits, the most important is this:  DPC allows returns autonomy to practicing physicians. . . . In moving to a DPC model, doctors reject not only payment from third parties, but also refuse to participate in burnout-provoking mandates.”

“As Rachel Hines, MD, MPH says, ‘I hate that it has taken a pandemic to reveal that what our healthcare system needs is a strong, accessible, and nimble primary care base—DPC in a nutshell.’”


“Direct care practices perfectly positioned to help patients during coronavirus outbreak,” by Rebekah Bernard, MD, Medical Economics, March 30, 2020