Direct Primary Care – A lifeline for physicians
August 3, 2022
Last month I attended a three-day Direct Primary Care (DPC) conference in Kansas City, demonstrating the major growth in this movement to free the practice of medicine from corporate swindlers and return it to patients and their independent physicians. Or, as keynote speaker, Dr. Doug Farrago has subtitled his decades-running blog authenticmedicine.com, "Taking Healthcare Back from the Idiots Who Are Now in Charge."
Of the 260+ physicians in attendance, I would venture to say that the show of hands corresponded well to the look on their faces in determining what stage of converting their practice to DPC folks were in – About 60% were owners of their own independent practice (the happy ones, with heads held high, welcoming smiles and enthusiastic candor). Twenty percent were planning to open their practice within a year (the ones with the wide, nervous eyes holding on to every word for pearls of wisdom). Fifteen percent were in an early exploration/planning stage (the "DPC curious" were the tired-looking huddled masses, afraid of the unknown, yet yearning to be set free). And there was a large handful of medical students and residents there, too (the boisterous younglings, ready to jump into the fire with unabashed ambition).
When I opened my Direct Primary Care practice in February 2016, I did so on a shoestring budget, and with threads of support from a handful of like-minded physicians across the country. There were six--hundred or so known DPC practices, and a few lectures at the AAFP conference, but there was certainly no roadmap for success or organization disseminating best practices.
There are now around 2,000 practices across the country. The DPC Alliance (DPCalliance.org) has evolved into the pre-eminent physician-led organization. We provide the tools and advocacy necessary for authentic independent practices to thrive and grow. This year the DPCA supported TWO national conferences, providing speakers, content and direction.
While there are many who choose DPC out of fierce independence, the majority choose it to overcome or avoid the burnout, moral injury, and Stockholm syndrome that defines our broken healthcare system and its unceasing march towards the cliff. Among DPC physicians is a universal goal not only to practice pure, unadulterated primary care but also a widespread desire to throw a life preserver to our fellow physicians who are drowning in the system.
I encourage anyone struggling in primary care to explore Direct Primary Care. Check out the DPCalliance.org. Listen to physicians' stories of "escaping from the system" on the podcast mydpcstory.com. See what's going on at dpcnews.com. Join the DPCdocs Facebook group. Cold call any DPC doc. There are even several books about starting a DPC. But don't burn out, quit, retire or leave for an administrative job! You CAN have the practice you want – it's not rocket science! As we like to say in DPC, it's so easy that even a doctor can do it!
Eric Kropp, MD
President, NH Medical Society
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