Since deciding some weeks ago to start this blog, I’ve debated the subject of the initial post. I’ve gone back and forth on different topics in my head–should I write about this or should I write about that? It probably doesn’t matter as much as I’ve convinced myself that it does, and those reading this likely don’t care about the debates between the voices in my head (so let’s get on with it already).

No matter where you are in your discovery of Direct Primary Care–whether you are a veteran DPC physician or a medical student/resident hearing about it for the first time–we all face one common question:

What is Direct Primary Care?

For the seasoned professional, this is a question that is proposed continuously by family and friends, local businesses, news outlets, and potential patients. For the fledgling medical student this is likely the question that directed you here, and if you choose to pursue it, will continue to follow you throughout your life. While this question is important–so much so that we will dedicate much of our future time to exploring the details surrounding it–I propose that there is one question that must be answered first if we are to truly understand and embrace the DPC movement:

Why Direct Primary Care?

If you are familiar with the author/motivational speaker/consultant Simon Sinek you will know where I’m going with this (If you aren’t, watch this short video before continuing). The “what” of DPC is not important, even trivial, if we can’t first understand and effectively communicate the “why.”

While we all have unique backgrounds and experiences, we got into medicine for one reason–to take care of people. We sat in our medical school interviews and told of experiences that had ignited within us a desire to help bring health to the lives of those we were to come into contact with. Unfortunately, along this journey, we’ve discovered countless barriers to health in today’s medical landscape. You have likely experienced many of these barriers, both as a patient and as a provider.

Think back to the last time you were sick or injured. Somewhere during the course of that illness or injury you probably debated, as we all do, visiting the doctor. During that internal debate, a series of predictable questions likely crossed your mind: What is the visit going to cost? How long until I can get in to see my doctor? I don’t have a great relationship with my doctor, will they treat me fairly? Will I even see my doctor or will I have to see someone else? How much time is this going to take out of my day? The list continues on, but the answer to one of those questions ultimately was enough to persuade you to stay home and tough it out. Sound familiar?

Switching roles from patient to provider you’ve seen first-hand that these barriers to health don’t stop once you get someone to trust you enough to make an appointment. If you’ve read this far you know all too well the barriers that you confront every day when taking care of patients– your crammed schedule, 15 minute appointments, that stack of paperwork on your desk, those unfinished charts from last week, bureaucratic pressures from above–another list that goes on forever. The end result is all too familiar and leaves us wondering if we are fulfilling our pre-med self’s desire to take care of people. Have I got your attention?

So, why Direct Primary Care? A simple answer–the patients. The one thing that was once so important, the most important, has gotten lost in the shuffle of to do’s, checklists (and boxes), and best-practice algorithms. What once was a simple relationship between doctor and patient has become muddled with middlemen, ever increasing the distance between the two that there remains only a shadow of that relationship. What results is the waste of the one asset that you cannot increase no matter how hard you work, how much money you have, or how smart you are–your time. When your time is spent busily overcoming these barriers, the ones who suffer most are your patients. By removing yourself from the system and thus eliminating these obstacles completely the picture becomes clear and the focus direct.

Direct primary care removes these obstacles and barriers and returns the focus to where it should be. Will a task improve patient care? No? Well, there’s no point in doing it (and no one forcing us to do so). Every minute of every day is spent focused on patients and their health, the way we hoped and dreamed it would be.  Some may call us dreamers, risk takers, even patient-obsessed. To that we say thank you and invite you to come join us.

If these scenarios ring true to you take solace in the fact that you are not alone. Stay tuned over the next few weeks and months as we dive into the “what” and “how” of direct primary care and hear from pioneers in the field who are living it today.