Direct Primary Care Doctors are Happier. What Does That Mean for Employers?
About the Author
Dr. Eric Miller serves as Paladina Health's Regional Medical Director for the Eastern United States. He loves practicing at Paladina Health because it allows him to maintain a clinical practice with rich patient relationships while still being able to serve in a leadership capacity.
Few among us are strangers to burnout. If we haven’t experienced it personally, chances are we have a friend, colleague, or partner who has. Yet burnout is at a whole different level for the typical primary care physician in the United States. In fact, a recent study of doctors in the United States found that a whopping 77.8% of respondents reported feelings of professional burnout.
One doctor summarized the problem this way: “They wanted us to be more and more productive, like we had to see a patient every 15 minutes...it wasn’t about patient care any longer.” Clif Knight, MD, FAAFP, an active board member of a group fighting burnout in healthcare, shared, “What we hear from doctors repeatedly is, ‘I went into healthcare to help people, but I spend my day…wasted on all of these things instead of focusing on taking care of my patients.”
The traditional healthcare system has lost sight of the value of patient relationships – value that comes from the satisfaction doctors feel in developing relationships with their patients and the quality of care those trusted relationships allow. Not the case with Paladina Health’s physician-led direct primary care program, where we’re creating a better physician and patient experience. The two go hand-in-hand.
Medicine the way it was meant to be practiced
Many of our providers have left traditional primary care so they can practice medicine the way they had originally intended. Our providers find greater satisfaction in caring for their patients because with 70 percent fewer patients than a traditional primary care physician, they’re able to spend the time needed developing trusted relationships. In turn, Paladina Health patients get a superior level of medical guidance and care coordination through unhurried appointments where they’re encouraged to share all of their health concerns, often getting treatment for multiple ailments in the same visit.
If outside care is needed, our providers help their patients navigate the larger healthcare system. This ensures the right care is delivered in the right healthcare setting, leading to hard dollar savings by eliminating the need for unnecessary trips to the ER/urgent care and extraneous tests and procedures. It’s a win-win solution for revitalizing the physician-patient relationship, improving physician work-life balance, and patient health outcomes.
What Paladina Health direct primary care providers are saying
The best thing about the Paladina Health model for physicians and other healthcare providers is that we actually have the time to do what we were trained to do. In the fee-for-service model we are given 15 minutes, sometimes less, to try to address some very complicated issues for patients. We walk away unsatisfied, the patient walks away unsatisfied, and certain things are not addressed in that one office visit. In the [Paladina Health] model, we have enough time to be able to address several different complaints in one visit.
“The way you make your money in a fee-for-service practice is that you're charging for the services that you provide. So if I see someone for a routine physical and they also have hypertension, these days the insurance pays for a routine physical, but hypertension is considered a separate thing, a medical problem as opposed to a preventive service. I either have to see someone just for the routine physical and bill for that and see them on a different day for their hypertension or I have to see them for the routine physical, but let the patient know they’ll be paying their copay and deductible because we're also covering their hypertension the same day. And people are thinking, ‘Well I was just coming in for my physical…why should I be paying?’ I love Paladina Health because it lets me just do what's practical…I love that we have the long appointments so that I can deal with everything in one.”
“I create the most value for my patients with a more comprehensive knowledge of their circumstances, their family, and their health history. Also, value in the sense of the time that I get to spend with them. Every patient gets a chance to ask all their questions. In fact, at the end of every encounter, my last question for them is, is there anything more I can do for you today? When they say no, the visit is over.”
“One of the reasons I joined Paladina Health is that the focus is returned to patient care. You're actually focusing on the patient. You're focused on their wellbeing. You're doing your best to help with containing healthcare costs for that patient, not because that reflects on your paycheck. The Paladina Health model is just a superior way to deliver patient care. The focus is on the patient and not a rush through the numbers.”