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Figuring out whether to go with virtual vs direct primary care is easy when you have all the facts. Whichever you choose, the principle remains the same. Direct primary care is about creating a better quality relationship between doctors and their patients. Eliminating the ‘sausage factory’ created by the modern American health system. It doesn’t matter if it’s virtual vs direct primary care. The main point is that it helps us to move towards a better health system for all – not only the elite few. 

What is Direct Primary Care 

Direct primary care (DPC) is an amazing alternative to insurance-based medical billing. Instead of being billed per appointment by your family doctor, you pay a monthly fee. In exchange for this monthly fee, you receive: ‘

  • Free or discounted doctor’s appointments
  • Same-day or next-day  appointments 
  • Free or discounted laboratory tests
  • Chronic conditions management
  • 24/7 emergency telephonic contact 

The chief advantage of the DPC approach is that doctors generally have a limit to the number of patients they treat. This gives the doctor time to focus on each patient and results in longer appointments. Additionally, doctors are not as overworked, meaning that they can give their full attention to everyone. Because doctors only see a limited amount of patients, they form a closer relationship with each one. Just like in the olden days – your doctor knows you and your family. You become more than just a number. 

Another major perk of the DPC model is that the pricing is upfront and transparent. With traditional health insurance, you can leave the doctor’s office without knowing how much your appointment cost. You don’t know how much, if any, your medical insurance will pay for. In contrast,  the patient is fully aware of their monthly fee when in a direct primary care relationship. 

Virtual vs Direct Primary Care

Virtual primary care is based on the direct primary care model. The patient pays a monthly fee and a physician is assigned to you, the catch is that you only meet with them online. 

The patient and the virtual primary care doctor use modern technology in order to communicate. There are many ways your doctor might do this: 

  1. Via a phone or video call
  2. Sending instant messages
  3. Sending videos or audio clips
  4. Asking patients to complete a health report 

Many patients worry about whether these meetings are secure. After all, you share confidential information with your doctor. The HIPAA  has laid out criteria for mobile apps and websites. So, you can rest easy – your information is safe and secure. 

The Virtual Care Experience 

Before you try something new, the first thing you want to know is “So What’s it’s like anyway?” Sykes did a customer survey of over 2000 participants. Their aim was to find out how participants perceived virtual care. Here are some of the highlights: 

  • In light of the recent global crisis, 66% of participants said they are more willing to try telehealth. This is because you don’t risk exposure to infectious diseases. 
  • 16% of people said that they liked that you can access expert care from anywhere – even in rural areas. This adds up because 22% of people enjoyed that they did not need to travel to see the doctor.
  • While 38% found it faster, more convenient, and loved that they didn’t have to wait in an overcrowded room. We all know the feeling of being packed into a doctor’s waiting room like sardines while the person next to you is sneezing and coughing. You shouldn’t have to risk getting sick in order to see your doctor. 

Interestingly, health care professionals seem to agree that virtual care is the way to go. Doctors, psychologists, and other consultants have made the move to virtual sessions. Our healthcare system is just about fit to burst with the current crisis. So, it makes sense that doctors are wanting to treat as many people as they can, as safely as possible.

How is Virtual Primary Care Different From Telemedicine? 

Did your mamma ever tell you, all elephants are grey but not all grey things are elephants?

Just like the elephants being a type of grey thing, VDPC is a type of telemedicine. Telemedicine is simply just a long-distance meeting with a doctor.

So, the question really becomes, “What makes VDCP a unique type of telemedicine?

    1. You have one doctor: When you use the average telemedicine service you are assigned a random doctor. With virtual primary care, you choose your doctor and see the same doctor each time. This has a two-fold benefit. Firstly, you have a relationship with your doctor so you feel more comfortable to confide in them. Secondly, the doctor learns about your needs and can treat you more holistically.

 

  • Chronic disease management: Telemedicine doctors only see each patient once. Whereas, you form a relationship with your DPC doctor. This allows your doctor to comprehensively manage your chronic illness, follow up with you, and develop a disease management plan. 
  • Unlimited contact with your doctor: Generally, with VDPC the time you have with your doctor is unlimited. You pay your monthly fee and can see the doctor as many times as you would like. With telemedicine, you normally pay per contact session. 

Why Chose Virtual Direct Primary Care 

The advantages of using Virtual direct primary Care (VDPC) are:

  • You can access your doctor from anywhere in the world. This is particularly beneficial to people who travel a lot. 
  • It is cheaper than direct primary care.
  • Your VDPC doctor can help with most of your urgent care needs. Particularly if all you need is a prescription. 
  • Your VDPC doctor can manage your chronic illnesses and order routine lab tests.  

The main disadvantage of VDPC is that doctors are unable to do physical examinations – they cannot touch the patient. In most cases, this can be overcome by the doctor asking the patient to move in a certain way, palpate an area and describe what they feel, or ordering tests such as x-rays. 

For example, your son broke his ankle playing football. The VPDC doctor would be able to look at the ankle, assess the range of motion, and ask your son to describe whether the area is warm to the touch. After this, the doctor would order x-rays and examine them to confirm whether the bone is broken. Finally giving your son a prescription for medication and a referral to get a cast. This allows the virtual primary health doctor to overcome the barriers of not being there in person.

The Price Difference Between Virtual vs Direct Primary Care 

We often associate expense with quality. But with virtual primary care, it is cheaper but just as good – maybe even better. VDPC is cheaper because it is structured differently to DPC. 

It is important to remember that even the kindest of doctors need to earn a living. They have to charge enough to cover their expenses and some extra to keep themselves going. The chief reason that there is a price difference between virtual vs direct primary care is that the doctor has fewer overheads. 

All a doctor needs to pay for in order to work virtually is a computer, internet services, and possible fees associated with the app they are using. Whereas with a physical practice, there are a host of factors including rent, electricity, equipment, extra staff – the list just goes on and on. 

What VDPC Can Do For Your Business

Getting DPC or VDPC for your staff is a tax-deductible expense. This makes it a great employee benefit. Offering an awesome employee benefits package has many advantages, including attracting better talent, increased job satisfaction, and better employee retention. When those benefits are health-related, they have the added perk of being able to improve your employees’ health. 

The wellness of your employees is directly related to their productivity. Healthy employees are more present and more productive. When you couple this with the convenience of virtual direct primary care, you decrease absenteeism even further. Employees don’t have to take the day off work to go to the doctor – they just need their cell phone.

Check out our article on offering DPC to your employees to find out more

So, What’s the Answer: Virtual vs Direct Primary Care? 

The improved cost and convenience of virtual vs direct primary makes VDPC the obvious choice.  Remove the physical limitations of direct primary care – go virtual.

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