Direct care model drives focus on patient experience, doctor writes

By Aine Cryts

The wait times are horrendous, the amount of paperwork is endless, and the staff treats you poorly. This is the typical patient experience in most doctors' offices, writes Rob Lamberts, M.D., a primary care physician in Augusta, Georgia, in a post on The Health Care Blog.

A key reason that many patients have such a poor care experience is the "customer" in today's healthcare system isn't the patient--rather, it's the insurance company, according to Lamberts. That's why, instead of focusing on creating a great patient experience, providers treat patients like they're "the raw materials from which [CPT and ICD codes] are extracted."

For the past three years, Lamberts has worked under a different model, providing direct care to his patients. Instead of accepting insurance, he's paid directly by his patients.

Here's why Lamberts gets so many kudos from his patients, according to his blog post:

His practice is a business; communication and access matter. Lamberts' patients can choose at any time to leave his practice. That's why he focuses on improving the patient experience, which includes saving his patients money and providing clear communication and access to care, he writes.

The office is clean and comfortable; there's virtually no waiting. Eschewing conversations in the exam room, Lambert writes that he typically talks to patients in his office, which features a comfortable couch. Patients are typically offered tea or coffee as well. And if patients are waiting, it's generally because they arrived early for their appointments, according to his blog post.

He's transparent about the cost of care and medications. And when patients can't afford their medications, one of the nurses on his team works with drug companies to secure free medications for low-income patients.

"I do these things for one simple reason: my patients are my customers. The more customers I have, the better income my business gets," he writes. "My patients won't stay my patients for long if my service gets anywhere near the norm for doctors' offices. There is a bonus, of course: it's the nice thing to do. My business model makes being nice an asset, not a liability."

To learn more:
- check out the blog post