Sounds exotic, doesn’t it? But in reality it was just a meeting of doctors who value their patients and the right to contract free of government control. The annual meeting of the American Academy of Private Physicians (AAPP) brought together like minded clinicians who were either already immersed in a concierge primary care practice or who were considering changing from a traditional medical experience. Physician Care Direct (PCD) was on the speaking agenda.
The first day of speakers highlighted our differences. While everyone in attendance strongly believed in the value of a powerful doctor/patient relationship fueled by increased access and time spent with the patient and all recognized the dangers of overbearing government regulation proposed in parts of the Affordable Care Act, many of the AAPP practitioners saw themselves in the role of caregivers for the wealthy. Increased “access” to them meant making themselves available to their patients 24/7. For the Physician Care Direct team in attendance, the “access disconnect” made us wonder if we had wasted our time.
As AAPP Executive Director Tom Blue gave his welcoming talk, however, he noted the looming shortage in America of primary care physicians. He highlighted his talk with a graph showing an ever-widening gap between available doctors and needed caregivers. Ironically, his message was being given to primary care doctors who would seemingly aggravate the doctor shortage by adopting the concierge model and limiting their practices to the few that could pay a $2000 to $5000 per year premium. We wondered how his message would be received.
Day two brought PCD’s Chris Shoffner to the podium to explain the opportunity for these doctors to expand access to the CEO’s employees, not just to the big shots. Eloquently, Chris explained what “increased access” means to Physician Care Direct: expanding the membership model of primary care to the masses through an affordable, transparent, and broadly scalable platform. Extracting the third party payer costs from the equation enables the doctor to care for his patient at an affordable, transparent price. The businessman can contract directly with the local doctors to give a medical home to his employees. No third party payer and no government telling him what he has to do.
How was the PCD message received? Executive Director Blue created a workshop for Physician Care Direct following Chris’s presentation in order to give those interested a chance to hear the PCD story and get their questions answered. The room was alive.