“Be a student and not a critic – keep an open mind to new ideas and retain a ‘learning’ mindset. When you START criticizing, you STOP learning. When you stop learning, you stop LEADING.” ~A/S., Author
By Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief
There are a lot of ways to define the differences between Direct Primary Care (DPC) and Concierge Medicine.
They are often confused with one another.
Each are often misunderstood as well. While they have similarities they also have drastic differences. Our infographic(s) help to illustrate those similarities and differences.
While some look at them as competing primary care and family medicine subscription-based business models and argue the less expensive one should replace the higher priced one, these would be incorrect and misunderstood presumptions. That would be similar to the manufacturer of the Honda Civic saying that this one vehicle can and should replace all other vehicles and render luxury sedans in the same class or other car classes entirely obsolete.
We approach these free market healthcare delivery models with some objectivity. We see them not as competing businesses but part of a larger healthcare family tree where these are two distinct branches under the Membership Medicine canopy. Concierge Medicine started nearly 25 years ago and DPC came into its own in the past five years. Each having their own unique patient base, demographics and even service offerings, we see them both as helpful branches that add more diverse fruit options to Patients in need of certain services from their Doctor.
One should understand that DPC and Concierge Medicine are not the only free market healthcare delivery models in use by consumers today.
RELATED STORY | FOR PHYSICIANS | DPC | Patients
Connected Health and mobile telemedicine are also part of this family tree. As are cash-only clinics, employer based DPC programs (DPC2B), NP/PA-led direct pay clinics and even retail healthcare centers are now part of the Convenient Care Clinic canopy on the same tree. Some would like to say that DPC can and should be the center of the primary care universe but that’s simply not the culture and society patients live in today. Certainly, DPC and the like are great models with great potential to help drive down costs and increase greater access to a Physician but consumers have other options too. We can’t forget that.
“We must pay attention to the frontiers of our ignorance.” ~Sam Harris
Back on topic. Some have defined DPC and have and continue to do it legislatively in their state, refining and tweaking legal language to make certain things ‘pass the bill.’
That’s great. It is even necessary. Whatever pushes free market healthcare delivery of all kinds should have these refinements made.
When we approach this topic we take into consideration a lot of different opinions, filter out the bias, the protectionism, the politics and ask our readers to come to their own conclusions. It is completely fine to be persuaded in one direction or model over another. The opinions of Doctors, of course, even the opinions of attorney’s, legislators and some lobbyists would say trump any of your or our opinions.
But, when you ask the Patient the difference, they often don’t know. That’s a real problem. Or is it?
Are you going to recite the law or the appropriate statewide legal definition to them in hopes they ‘get it’ and then subscribe?
No, of course not.
What many great Doctors do in ‘Membership Medicine’ as a whole today do is share their vision of a preferred future with the Patient. You invite them into a program and a relationship that can hopefully help them discover better health and at the end of the payment cycle, hope they will find value in you!
RELATED STORY | PRIMARY CARE FIXES | FOR PHYSICIANS | FOR DPC
(New, Listen) EP 260 | Dr. Stephen Schimpff and Michael Tetreault, Editor Discuss the Two Sides of Healthcare. One That Works Well; One That Does Not. Why? Solutions. Part 1
I’m often asked what we see the differences are between DPC and Concierge Medicine. We love this question around here because we love both branches of the family tree and most of the Doctors that operate inside these unique environments. We don’t see them as competing models, but serving different demographics and each have uniquely diverse patient panels. You don’t have to take our word for it. Look at the evidence and trending demographic new patient search inquiry data from just the past three years.
Around here and when we educate and talk to physicians each and every day about this free market healthcare delivery space, it is not about one model or the other. That dialogue is not helpful to Patients who need your help, regardless of how you brand or identify your practice model. These are both great subscription healthcare delivery models that Patients are attracted to for specific reasons. For some in healthcare to demonize Concierge Medicine is quite frankly, off-putting and unattractive.
We think both models have value. We think both models have merit. We think the respect Physicians show to other Physicians is a reflection of good character. We think Physicians in both of these spaces should be treated with the same respect you treat your practicing peers in the board room or the hospital hallway. And guess what, there will be unique iterations of them both in the near future.
“Somebody is already working on a uniquely better approach, a uniquely better product, a uniquely better environment, a uniquely better model. Someone out there is currently messing with the rules of the prevailing model.The goal isn’t necessarily to be the first or the pioneer of uniquely better but people should be in a position organizationally and personally to recognize it when it comes along.”~A.S., Leadership Podcast; Part 2; Dec. 1, 2017
Are there things both of these models cannot do? Yes! Absolutely. Don’t believe me, read my latest op/ed encounter at the Emergency Department and subsequent surgery and story here. That will clearly and distinctly tell us where these models stop and start again.
We often criticize things that are new, things we we cannot control and do not understand. It is a natural reaction and tension when confronted with change. But when people bump into Concierge Medicine and are quick to resist it and criticize it … we find those that default immediately to the argument of price and cost have not truly taken the time to understand it nor why the patient is using it and why the Patient sees immense value in it. When we see great Doctors 🥼 criticized in their local papers for moving into Concierge Care a unique trend occurs. A couple of weeks later membership surges into those practices. Why? Because Patients are attracted to an invitation. The bar has been set so low in healthcare that it’s become a pot hole. Concierge Medicine raises the bar so high that it spotlights mediocre medicine. We can make the same arguments about luxury SUVs, PRIME Membership or organic, grass fed beef 🥩 now mailed to your door.
We don’t criticize these subscription services (as much) now as we did. We understand the value of a luxury sedan or a thrifty hatchback. The larger issue is not the unique and variety of differences between DPC and Concierge Medicine. That’s really NOT the conversation we should ever have. The real conversation should be how our culture today views their Physician. There is a reason people are going in droves to a retail healthcare clinic vs. their PCP. We’ve talked about this for years. There is a reason Hollywood portrays Doctors as uncaring, unhelpful paper pushers. We have for the most part, grown accustom to thinking that all healthcare is supposed to be fair, right? In a board room or in the hospital hallway all doctors are educated equally … or treated as respected peers. But the reverse is true when it’s you sitting on the other side of the exam room. When a patient sits on the other side of you they know the difference between a “good” doctor and a “great” doctor in just seconds. When they want or need a surgery or second opinion, they want the best Doctor. Concierge Doctors are not driven by ego or money. When we look what happens in places where ‘fair’ is the benchmark in healthcare we get mediocre medicine, long lines and an even greater physician shortage. If Concierge Medicine rubs you the wrong way when you bump into it you may have some self-reflection to do. Why not think about ‘fairness in medicine’ as getting ENGAGED AND GET TO KNOW YOUR PATIENTS. That’s fair. That’s doing for one what you wish you could do for EVERYONE. THEN, rinse and repeat with the next patient that walks in the door. Cost is an easy way to tell the world ‘I’m not listening. I’m right, you’re wrong. Case closed.’ That’s not the type of Doctor Patients want to see … and if you don’t believe me, look at the chart here and see what Patients are saying and how the marketplace is reacting. We should not be so quick to criticize, cross our arms and judge something we don’t fully take the time to understand.
“Closed minded leaders, close minds.”
Bloggers today are writing stories about subscription burnout, ‘have you done a subscription purge lately?’ and telling us as consumers that we should review our auto-billing credit card statements with greater frequency because we’re probably subscribed to something we don’t use anymore.
Why isn’t everyone playing on the same team in free market healthcare delivery? After all, isn’t it about the Patient at the end of the day? Some beg to differ. And, that’s okay, to a point.
What if I were to tell you a story about how a Mom with a brain tumor is still loving her kids and living with her family at home because of the early and intentional intervention of a Concierge Physician? Or, what if I were to tell you that a seasoned citizen in the mountains of Montana broke his ankle and was able to video chat with his DPC Doctor while alone on the trail and find a way to limp back to civilization?
For Doctors, some of you have great stories to tell. But outside the four walls of your practice, people in and around your community are telling an entirely different story. In fact, you’ve probably heard people share horror stories about a recent hospital stay or specialist encounter. People are literally trying to one-up each others stories about how bad healthcare is out there.
One of our all-time favorite interviews and DPC Physician stories is from a DPC Doctor in Tennessee. This husband and wife team are remarkable.
LISTEN TO FULL INTERVIEW HERE
EP. 131 | The DOCPRENEUR PODCAST: Meet The Town Doctor, a DPC Practice
EDITOR, Audio: “My Daughter, a Superhero named Sparkle Girl, has some advice for Doctors…”
Here Are ALL of Your Free Market Healthcare Choices — Not Simply Limited to Concierge Medicine and Direct Primary Care. You Should Know The Differences, Because Your Patients Do.
2019 Free Market Healthcare Delivery Family Tree | INFOGRAPHIC
Download Infographic Now …
Urgent or Retail Healthcare
What is the Difference Between Urgent Care, Retail Health Clinics?
Patient-Centric or Guest-Centric Healthcare
What Is the difference between Patient-Centric vs. Guest-Centric Healthcare?
Millennial or Baby Boomer
Differences Between Millennial and Baby Boomer Healthcare Consumers
Concierge Doctor or Direct Primary Care
INFOGRAPHIC + INSIGHT | 2019 | The Differences Between DPC and Concierge Medicine
Retail Clinic Consumers
ANALYSIS | Differences in Demographics among Retail Clinic Customers
In Healthcare, Accountant or Bookkeeper?
In the Business of Healthcare, What Is The Difference Between An Accountant and a Bookkeeper?
Home DNA or Clinical DNA?
Home DNA vs. Clinical DNA: What’s the Difference?
Health Advisory or Concierge Physician?
What Is the difference between Health Advisory Firms and Concierge Physician Practices?
Precision Medicine or Personalized Medicine?
NIH: What is the difference between precision medicine and personalized medicine?
So in conclusion for today, you should understand that the world is looking at Membership Medicine in all of its forms, all of its price points and all of its wonder and the people around you are turning this snow globe over and saying, ‘That’s a smart idea. Maybe I should learn more about that.’ For some, these models are a welcome reprieve from the bureaucracy of healthcare delivery. For others, it is so simple it’s strange to consider anything else. We all do everything we can to make our friends and family feel at home when we invite them to dinner. Yet in a healthcare environment, we are minutes away from walking in a medical office and expect we will receive something entirely different, and most often, we do.
Let’s change that.