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Direct primary care offers healthcare for flat-rate, monthly fee

Posted: 7:14 AM, Oct 04, 2017
Updated: 2017-10-04 14:33:22-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- It’s a type of medical care that’s gaining momentum across the country.

Direct primary care: a type of care that allows you to pay a flat-rate monthly fee for all services provided—and more one-on-one time with your care provider.

“It’s not simply that it’s a more affordable kind of care, but it’s more concierge-level, private patient driven, that is very different from the local clinic that you’re used to,” said Adam Habig, co-founder of Freedom Healthworks, a company that connects patients with direct care primary providers, as well as helps family care doctors launch from traditional care practices into the direct primary care method.

Direct primary care is following that national increasing trend right here in the Circle City.

 “I saw there was a lot of shortcomings and just sort of inefficiencies in how we delivered care, so I was always looking to find a way to provide care in a more meaningful, and more efficient, environment,” said Dr. Risheet Patel, who spent 9 years practicing in a traditional family care practice, before deciding he wanted a change.

 “I had seen a lot of colleagues across the country do the direct primary care model. So, I started looking into it and see what it would take to bring that to the Indianapolis area,” said Dr. Patel.

Now, having practiced under the model for a year, and having just opened his own direct primary practice in Fishers, he said he would never go back to the traditional method of care.

Dr. Patel said in direct primary care, the doctor works directly with the patient, so there is no need to use insurance.

Do take note: You still need to have insurance.  Dr. Patel said to look at is like this: just as you have car insurance in case of a crash, you need to have medical insurance, in case of any health emergency.

So, what is included in direct primary care’s flat-rate fee?

“We typically do everything by a monthly membership fee. So that includes all of the office visits, in-office testing, and we do a lot of e-visits and telehealth in our office,” explained Dr. Patel.

Dr. Ashlie Olp, who has practiced as a family care doctor for 15 years, just made the switch this month.

She hopes to open her office in Carmel by November.

Dr. Olp said she decided to practice under the direct primary model following her own experience of gaining care access, while battling a leg injury.

“I found it nearly impossible to get access to a doctor without begging. And then when you did, you only had a few minutes in front of that person. Some tests were ordered, and then if it didn’t tell them what they needed to know, they just sent you on,” explained Dr. Olp.

“I finally took matters into my own hands and started ordering my own tests and diagnosed myself. But I could only do that because I am a doctor,” said Dr. Olp.

She said the transparency in billing also plays a major role in her move.

“When you’ve had several surgeries in the hospital, and you see the bill, it’s shocking,” said Dr. Olp.

With the direct primary model, you don’t have to worry about that shock effect.

Also under the model, more time spent with your care provider.

“I personally call patients back for follow-up questions or giving lab results, so it’s just that closer connection that I have with patients that this model allows us to have. And I think patients really appreciate that,” said Dr. Patel.

 “The most important thing to me is really the relationship with patients. That’s what’s really rewarding to me about medicine is my relationships with my patients,” said Dr. Olp.

Dr. Patel and Dr. Olp said the average time spent in a traditional clinic with your doctor is 12 minutes, and through direct primary care, that time is extended anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the need.

Do note: This type of healthcare isn’t for everyone—like anything, it’s all based on personal preference.

If this does sound like a type of healthcare you’d like to use, that’s where Adam Habig and Freedom Healthworks comes in.

As the son of two physicians and having witnessed physician burnout firsthand from his parents while growing up, he and his two siblings started Freedom Healthworks.

Through Freedom Healthworks, you can be connected with physicians who work under the direct primary model.

By the end of this year, Habig said there will be about 12 practitioners of the model in the Indianapolis area.  

And if you’re a physician in a traditional practice and want to make the switch, Freedom Healthworks will help give you the tools to bridge into direct primary.

Habig did stress though, as both Dr. Patel and Dr. Olp stressed, that this type of care is not a substitute for insurance, but rather a supplement.

If you would like to start doing your primary care under this direct primary model, or if you’re a physician at a traditional practice and want to make the switch into providing this type of care, you can visit the Freedom Healthworks website .

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