DPC and the Future of U.S. Healthcare

Our vision at Hint Health is a redesigned U.S. healthcare system that enables easy access to high quality, affordable care. The current system is broken, as evidenced by enormous medical bills, burnt-out caregivers, and a confusing maze of organizations and requirements that greatly frustrates patients. At the 2021 Hint Summit, we had the honor of hosting former Senator Bill Frist, M.D. who led a session on the future of healthcare in the United States. In particular, Senator Frist focused on primary care and the important role it plays in delivering quality care to Americans. Research shows that strong primary care is associated with better population health and longer lifespans and is critical to building trust in the healthcare system.

Unfortunately, the U.S. has seen the primary care provider-patient relationship slip, and during the pandemic we saw the effects of that breakdown on our country. Primary care was sadly underutilized in the country’s efforts to address COVID-19. Unless we take drastic action, our healthcare system will inevitably continue to struggle due to pervasive burnout and administrative burden; in fact, 534,000 people left the healthcare industry in August 2021 alone. Because of this, patients are seeing more turnover among their primary care providers, further deteriorating the relationships patients have with their doctors.

Prioritizing the Physician-Patient Relationship

Senator Frist noted that for most Americans their primary care provider is the first point of contact with the health system. The primary care relationship often has a lasting impact on patients’ approach to seeking healthcare, highlighting the importance of creating stronger bonds. Direct Primary Care (DPC) aims to rebuild these bonds by focusing on the patient-provider relationship and by removing administrative headaches that lead to higher costs.In fact, our recent survey found that 52% of all respondents believe that cost is the worst thing about their current healthcare.

With DPC, consistent membership fees cover the cost of all visits and most primary care services, helping patients avoid unexpected out-of-pocket payments while providing a steady means of income for physicians. This model ensures doctors are paid for the value they bring to patients and removes the distorted incentives found in fee-for-service models.

Strengthening Virtual Care Options

During the pandemic, the healthcare industry was turned on its head; primary care visits were often suspended and more patients chose to use telehealth methods for non-emergency doctor visits from the comfort of their homes. Senator Frist noted that DPC was well-equipped to meet this need for virtual care during the pandemic, as many practices either already had virtual services available or could quickly add and sustain them without having to rely on insurance reimbursements. And DPC providers continue virtual care amid the fluctuation of COVID cases - as providers have the flexibility, aptitude, and incentive to meet patients where they’re at.

As we look to rebuild trust in the healthcare system and change the current model, we’re working to put DPC at the forefront of the U.S. health industry. As we have witnessed first-hand, DPC is a viable model that fosters strong patient-provider relationships and will help usher in the new era of truly value-based care.

Like Senator Frist, we want to rebuild trust in the American healthcare system. Our hope is at Hint Summit 2022 we can revisit the topic of “The Future of US Healthcare” with positive updates and momentum towards a better, healthier tomorrow!