This article is not an endorsement of a particular medical provider. Members are free to choose their own providers.
Members may be able to have some of their Direct Primary Care membership fees shared when they are receiving treatment for an illness or injury. Contact Member Services for more information and see the “Direct Primary Care” item in Section VIII.B of the Guidelines. (www.SamaritanMinistries.org/guidelines)
By Michael Miller
Dr. Jeffrey Davenport is thrilled that he can “take care” of the patients at his direct primary care practice rather than merely “see” them.
Dr. Michael Kloess has found a way to serve the poor by offering DPC care to his paying patients.
And Dr. Deborah Chisholm considers it “an honor” to grab her black bag and make a house call.
Drs. Davenport, Kloess, and Chisholm are Samaritan Ministries members and part of the growing direct primary care form of medicine.
DPC practices are perfect matches for cash-paying Samaritan members:
- Removal of a third party for payments.
- Transparent pricing.
- No fighting through layers of bureaucracy for discounted care.
- Services like labs, imaging, and prescriptions are frequently bundled with membership, or the practice is able to secure discounts.
- Direct access to a physician.
The movement is growing so much that the fourth annual Direct Primary Care Summit was held recently in Kansas City.
More information is available for patients, too. Samaritan’s website has a page devoted to links to DPC resources. Listed are search suggestions, as well as links to sites that will help you find a DPC practice in your area. Links are also provided to DPC doctors who are also Samaritan members.
The doctors mentioned above recently answered our questions about being Direct Primary Care physicians.
Dr. Deborah Chisholm, whose Leroy, Illinois, practice is not far from Samaritan’s home office in Peoria, opened the Chisholm Center for Health, on December 31, 2014.
“Our clients know they are highly valued here, and they know that if they have an urgent medical problem, they are going to be able to reach me and find out if they need to be seen,” she says.
They can do that by phone, text, Skype, office, or a home visit.
“What I love most about the DPC model of care is that it prioritizes the needs of the patient above all else,” she says. “The patient is the central figure in this model of care, not an insurance company or health care organization. This grants me and my patients (or clients, as I like to say) the opportunity to decide together what is best for the client, and in most cases we can move along very quickly with diagnostic testing or treatments within my capability that an insurance company might oppose and choose not to cover for whatever reason.”
Dr. Michael Kloess says the Our Lady of Hope clinic in Madison, Wisconsin, is plainly faith-based. He uses his interaction with patients to talk about their relationship (or lack thereof) with Jesus, allowing him to “evangelize in the exam room.”
“Along with the traditional standard of care recommendations, both my Christian and non-Christian patients have come to expect Biblical answers to many of their medical concerns,” Dr. Kloess says.
Unique to the nonprofit clinic is its ability to use income from its “benefactor patients” to provide free primary care to uninsured members of the community. Dr. Kloess is also helped by volunteer nurses and a volunteer Needy Meds coordinator, “who works with our uninsured patients to find free or affordable prescription medications since we do not have a pharmacy in our clinic.”
Dr. Kloess and his staff serve about 150 “benefactor patients,” who pay “a nominal fee” for services, and have served more than 5,000 uninsured patients since opening seven years ago.
Like other DPCs, Our Lady of Hope Clinic doesn’t accept insurance and provides great access to Dr. Kloess.
“My benefactor patients appreciate that they are guaranteed same- or next-day scheduling, so they are not waiting weeks or longer to see me,” he says. “They also appreciate that they have access to my personal cell phone number, so they can reach me anytime—day, night, weekend, or holiday.”
Maintaining a smaller patient panel also helps.
“By limiting the number of benefactor patients I take into the practice, I can be more available to the patients I have, which translates into better patient outcomes,” Dr. Kloess says.
Dr. Jeffrey Davenport of One Focus Medical in Edmond, Oklahoma, sees such DPC distinctives as a revival of classic patient care, embodied in their slogan, “The New Standard in Family Care.”
“Our slogan is somewhat amusing since the ‘New Standard’ is actually a throwback to the way things used to be,” Dr. Davenport says. “Extended 30- to 60-minute visits (or longer), home visits (if necessary), access by phone and text (including afterhours and weekends). Time to get to know your family doctor. Kinda sounds like the good ol’ days.”
He says that more than anything else, his patients appreciate the access they have to him.
“I tell folks that I get paid to ‘take care’ of patients instead of getting paid to ‘see’ patients,” the doctor says. “What I mean is that I can treat a lot of things over the phone, by text, or e-mail. I educate, counsel, recommend, review tests, labs, translate into English what the specialist said, etc., all without a visit. I treat patients in other states, when they’re traveling. We don’t tell patients, ‘We cannot see you today.’”