For many patients, navigating the world of medical care can be challenging and confusing.
Patient Direct Care aims to make it as simple as possible by going back to the basics – providing direct primary care services without sending claims to insurance providers. In the United States, direct primary care (DPC) is a type of primary care billing and payment arrangement that allows companies or individuals to purchase their health care directly from a doctor. There are often no insurance co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance fees through this model. To date, Patient Direct Care, located in Battle Ground, is the only exclusive DPC practice in town.
Dino Ramzi, owner of Patient Direct Care, first came across the DPC model four years ago. At the time there were about 100 clinics nationwide that offered this, and now there are approximately 700 clinics around the United States. Ramzi began implementing DPC at his old clinic in addition to usual fee-for-service. He then decided to establish Patient Direct Care last year with the help of a business partner to help spread the idea around the region.
Ramzi said that the advantages of DPC are two-fold. The administrative barrier of using insurance for small bills is eliminated and the encouraged use of primary care can help reduce overall health costs. This combination, Ramzi said, generally provides better quality care and in turn, patients are happier.
“Our offices are comfortable – the clinic does not look like a clinic,” Ramzi said. “It’s more like a living room with an exam table. It’s a vintage relationship some people may remember from the days of the old country doctor. But, we have a great deal of technology, including X-ray, a point-of-care lab, an electronic medical record with patient access, telemedicine, secure text messaging and a lot of other features. But the most unique and valuable feature is that we answer the phone when a patient needs us. Parents have told us being able to reach us on the weekend is priceless, when they don’t know if they should go to urgent care or the emergency room.”
Ramzi explains that since opening, growth for his business has skyrocketed.
“We opened in May 2016 and by July we had 500 patients, which is a record for a solo DPC start-up in the United States,” Ramzi said. “Right now, we are well over 1,000 paying patients and are growing at about 10-20 people a month. We also have a couple hundred people we see for free, because they came into hard times or followed us from my old office. We have five employees, two of whom are doctors.”
He explains that one of the reasons why Patient Direct Care has grown so quickly is because they work with a handful of local area construction companies, including Tapani, Inc. and Prairie Electric. The company expects to add other small- to medium-sized employers in the next year and they hope to expand to both east and central Clark County within a year.
According to Ramzi, the demand for this model of health care is steadily on the rise.
“The healthcare landscape is opening up for primary care,” he said. “One of the very real accomplishments of the ACA is that it started a conversation and people are learning a lot more about why their healthcare costs so much these days. Self-insured employers are the ones with the greatest flexibility to change what their employee’s health benefits look like. Companies would be more competitive with a more productive workforce, and would be able to provide higher wages if they get their health costs under control.”