For the next story about why I choose to practice the DPC (Direct Primary Care) model, I’m going to give an example of my patient, Cheryl.* Cheryl is a patient that followed me from my prior office and embraces the DPC model wholeheartedly. She also happens to be a neighbor who lives three miles from my current office. Cheryl has a high deductible insurance plan through her work, but wants to have the option of paying cash to save money on labs and sick visits. She also values the relationship and likes knowing that her doctor knows her well.
Cheryl texted me one afternoon with, “Walking, fell, there is a lot of blood.” That sounded urgent so I texted and called her back. She had lacerations on her forearm that were bleeding and was able to get back to her home and reach out to me. A couple of neighbors who witnessed the injury were with her at her home. We discussed her options of going to an Urgent Care center or an ER or coming in to see me. I could tell that Cheryl was overwhelmed and in a mix of shock and pain, so we decided that I would make a house call with my suture kit, bandages, and doctor bag. If I couldn’t treat her, then I would help her get to where she needed to go.
Fortunately, with a friend and a couple of neighbors for moral support, we were able to stop the bleeding, irrigate the wound, and close it up and bandage it. I gave instructions for the friend to stay with her and monitor that she elevated the arm, iced it, and rested, while I went back to the office to see patients. Because the wound was somewhat deep, I wanted her to take a round of antibiotics which I dispense in the office. I was able to finish seeing patients that afternoon and then later that evening drop off her medicine and check on her. I had charged the $6 for the medication to her card on file, so she didn’t have to fill out any paperwork, leave her house, or worry about any payment.
I’m not able to make house calls to all of my patients due to driving distance and other logistics. But it was great to be able to help a patient and a neighbor like an “old-fashioned” doctor would. I would’ve been able to attend to Cheryl when I worked as an employed physician, but it would’ve been based on if I had an empty spot in my schedule. I had little control over those spots because a call center would fill them as quickly as they could. It was even getting difficult to “work someone in” because of the electronic medical record and documentation requirements.
Cheryl might have called and gotten in to see me or a colleague if we had a spot open, or been told to go an Urgent Care or ER where she would’ve gotten the same treatment, but much less personalized and for a lot more cost. For Cheryl and I both, this entire house call and all the care involved were priceless. I was even able to text Cheryl a few times to check on how her arm was healing and do follow up care. This is why I choose DPC.