Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Guest Post: Invitation to the 2014 Direct Primary Care Summit

Dear Colleague,

I am writing to ask that you consider attending or send a colleague to the 2014 Direct Primary Care National Summit. As you may know, the Family Medicine Education Consortium played the role of “first follower” of the Direct Primary Care movement. We took this position because we believe that the current RVU-driven fee for service system is crushing Family Medicine and primary care. The DPC approach is one of the best strategies for “unchaining” the vision and passion of Family Medicine.

We have learned that the Direct Primary Care model will be one of the models to be endorsed by the seven Family Medicine organizations in the Future of Family Medicine 2.0 report (Family Medicine for America’s Health). While this is a very positive step for Family Medicine, I am very concerned about the response that will accompany the report’s roll out.

Many current Family Medicine leaders have a negative bias against the DPC model. They hear DPC and they think "concierge." Those leaders who believe that only through integrated systems can there be real improvement in health outcomes also see DPC as a threat. I have been told by FP leaders that DPC is “the enemy” of real reform. This is not a minor issue. I would say the vast majority of FPs I talk to about DPC have had one or the other of these responses.

I have been talking with many senior Family Physician leaders about the exciting changes that are happening. I’ve been surprised by the cynicism I’ve encountered. Many mid-career and senior FP leaders have told me “we heard this before” and “I’ll believe this time is different when I see real results.”

After some reflection I came to this. Many of our current senior and mid-career leaders hit a wall in the 90s during the last periods of change. As young FPs they thought the managed care era was finally going to lead to real change. They also thought all the hoopla over the PCMH would lead to real change. They feel burned and will dampen and perhaps even blunt the potential for change at this time.

This is a serious issue and needs to be addressed in a substantive way now. I have a recommendation.

When we held the first DPC Summit last October, I sat in the audience and listened to the innovators share their stories about how they had built practices that served their patients and communities. I heard them speak of their joy in practicing medicine. The students and residents in the room heard the same thing and it lit a passion in their minds. Speaker after speaker served as powerful role models. In fact, the entire event was full of speakers and participants who exuded hope for the future.

We need a “full court press” to get faculty, health system leaders, residents and students to the DPC Summit 2014. I guarantee the following:

· Students who attend the Summit will return to their schools and become ambassadors for Family Medicine/primary care.
· Residents who attend the Summit will return to their programs and revitalize the hope for the future of practice as a Family Physician. They will even turn around the negative perceptions held by many faculty.
· Faculty members (FP or behavioral) who attend the Summit will feel validated and hopeful for the future.
· Health system leaders (either from a hospital/ACO based or FQHC environment) who attend the Summit will see that DPC is one of the best strategies to improve the health of the population and their organization’s bottom lines.

Please help us to use the DPC Summit 2014 to build a community of solution that will support the roll out of Family Medicine for America’s Health.

Here are a few things your organizations could do:

Encourage your colleagues to come to the DPC Summit 2014. Be as vocal as possible.

Also consider sponsoring student/resident scholarships to the meeting. Primary Care Progress has publicly sponsored $2000.00 in scholarships. They attended the first Summit and know the positive impact attendance has had on students and residents. We created a discounted rate for students and residents and also created a one day rate for them. We want them to attend in large numbers. They will become ambassadors of hope.

It is going to take more than a report issued in the fall to energize the Family Medicine movement. Please use the DPC Summit 2014 to start building momentum now.


Larry Bauer, MSW, MEd
Founding CEO, Family Medicine Education Consortium