Future of direct primary care in question as two pioneering businesses close

Male doctor in white lab coat
The closing of two pioneering direct primary care practices has raised questions about the future of the model. Getty/Saklakova

The failure of two major businesses that pioneered direct primary care practice has left the future of the model in question.

The closure of direct primary care businesses Qliance Medical Management and Turntable Health has raised some doubts within the industry about the sustainability of the model, according to Medical Economics.

Those failures come at a time when direct primary care has been growing in popularity among physicians who want to get off what they describe as an assembly line. Since patients pay directly for their care, doctors don’t have to deal with insurance companies or the government mandates that come with accepting Medicare and Medicaid.

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Qliance in Seattle closed its doors in mid-May and plans to officially shut down June 15 after 10 years of providing care to patients through a monthly membership, the publication said. “Qliance has been the poster child for DPC. Everyone was very positive of them. If that one can’t make it … it suggests maybe the business model (of DPC) is flawed,” Robert Berenson, M.D., of the Urban Institute in the District of Columbia, told Medical Economics.

Qliance closed after it was unable to secure long-term funding that would have brought together expanded services such as virtual care, patient management and urgent care, its founder and CEO Erika Bliss said.

Turntable, a Las Vegas practice founded by Zubin Damania, M.D., who is known as the rapper ZDoggMD, closed in January, according to the publication.

RELATED: Startup combines direct primary care and technology

While some practices are struggling, however, others are jumping into direct primary care. A couple of veteran techies have launched a primary care practice with a patient experience that's reminiscent of visiting an Apple store—or the set of a sci-fi movie. The Forward clinic was started by two entrepreneurs who admittedly know more about technology than medicine but have set out to create a direct primary care practice that provides patients with the latest technology at an affordable cost.