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Frequently Asked Questions About Direct Primary Care

What is Direct Primary Care?

Direct primary care is a popular healthcare model that aims to restore the doctor-patient relationship. With a membership-based structure, you pay a low monthly fee for various benefits. These include longer and more relaxed visits, access to labs at wholesale prices, and multiple ways to connect with your physician. There are no co-pays, and all additional fees for lab tests and medication are transparently communicated. We pass on our wholesale savings to you, ensuring a more personalized healthcare experience. By eliminating the need for insurance, direct primary care reduces the time-consuming administrative tasks associated with traditional practices. When Dr. Mendelsohn transitioned from her fee-for-service family medicine practice, she had a staggering patient load of over 3000 individuals. This made it challenging for her to have meaningful phone conversations, spend more than 15 minutes with each patient without falling behind on paperwork, or utilize telemedicine when necessary. However, under the direct primary care model, she now limits her panel to a maximum of 600 patients. This means she can dedicate five times longer to each individual, prioritize their specific needs, and ensure their overall well-being.

What is Family Medicine?

Family medicine is a specialized field of medicine that trains physicians to provide comprehensive care for individuals throughout their lives. During our training, we gain exposure to various areas of medicine, with a focus on internal medicine, pediatrics, and OB/GYN. We also have the opportunity to learn from specialists in fields such as cardiology, dermatology, psychiatry, and surgery. The essence of family medicine lies in providing personalized care that considers your physical and emotional well-being, based on what matters most to you. Our expertise extends to preventive care and engaging in discussions about your long-term healthcare goals. As these goals naturally evolve, family medicine practitioners acknowledge the importance of addressing these changes and treating you as a unique individual. In primary care, we must be aware of our limitations and recognize when it is necessary to collaborate with specialized healthcare providers beyond our practice.

Is it different from Concierge Medicine?

These terms are often used interchangeably, but the models are different. Both options provide longer appointment times and more personalized care. However, most concierge practices require a significant annual membership fee in addition to billing your insurance at each visit, similar to traditional medical offices. In contrast, direct primary care charges one low monthly fee to cover as many of your primary care needs as possible. We negotiate lower costs for labs, and imaging, and then pass the savings on to you. Since we don't have to comply with insurance regulations and billing, it eliminates the need for additional staff and time-consuming documentation in the EMR. This allows for better access to affordable care for everyone.

Does DPC mean this is an alternative or holistic practice?

Dr. Mendelsohn is a proponent of holistic treatment and is receptive to all safe forms of therapy. She practices evidence-based medicine and strongly encourages it. If you have an interest in complementary or alternative treatments for various conditions, Dr. Mendelsohn is more than willing to discuss these options with you while prioritizing your well-being. We have seen beneficial results from acupuncture, meditation, and other complementary treatments, so we are open to what works for you. However, it's essential to engage in a conversation about the safety and effectiveness of these options. Please note that Dr. Mendelsohn does not personally administer these treatments.

How do you feel about vaccinations?

Dr. Mendelsohn is a firm believer in vaccinating children to minimize the transmission of preventable diseases. As a practice, we wholeheartedly endorse all recommended childhood vaccines and adhere to the immunization schedules provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC. While we are open to considering alternative vaccination schedules, children must receive all the necessary vaccines before commencing school. We cannot provide any approval for school entry without full immunization unless there is a valid medical justification for not administering a specific vaccine.

Do you treat chronic pain?

Dr. Mendelsohn's approach to managing chronic pain does not involve the use of opioid medications. At our pharmacy, we do not stock opioids (also known as narcotics or controlled substances) or benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Valium. Instead, we employ alternative methods to address pain and, if chronic narcotics are deemed necessary, we will gladly refer you to a suitable specialist who can provide the appropriate treatment.

Do I still need insurance?

Yes, it is highly recommended that all our patients maintain their insurance coverage. This will ensure they are prepared for the more costly aspects of healthcare, such as specialty care, emergency visits, hospitalizations, or surgery. We can assist you in finding an agent who can match your family's needs with the most affordable and comprehensive plan available. Meanwhile, we remain committed to offering primary care services that are both cost-effective and of high value. Our office pairs well with high deductible plans, catastrophic plans, and healthcare sharing groups.

Do you offer lab testing?

Just like any other outpatient office, we order appropriate lab tests. We offer in-house lab testing for blood sugar/hemoglobin A1Cs, urinalysis, urine pregnancy test, rapid strep, and rapid flu. We are able to pass our discounted DPC lab prices on to you. This means you pay less than 10% of the typical cost at insurance-based practices. For blood draws, we collaborate with LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics to provide low-cost services. If you prefer to bill your insurance, either reference lab can handle that for you. Your annual physical labs will include a complete blood count, cholesterol level, and comprehensive metabolic panel (blood sugar level, liver and kidney function, and thyroid function) at no additional charge to you.

What if I need a referral?

We can assist you in finding a specialist when one is required, whether it's for x-rays, scans, or procedures that we don't offer in our office. With over 15 years of experience in the greater Charlotte area, Dr. Mendelsohn is well-equipped to recommend the specialist that best suits your needs. We are currently in the process of negotiating lower rates for imaging services and will keep you informed.

What if I need medical care when I am away from home?

Give us a call! Because our patient panel is smaller and more personalized, we can help you even when you are sick and far away from home. Many illnesses can be managed by phone, text, or Zoom, so let us locate the nearest pharmacy and call in what's necessary. If you need to be seen in urgent care or ER, we will make a personal call describing your medical condition to the provider and send any records that are necessary for a more comprehensive evaluation.

What if I need to be hospitalized?

Hopefully, you won't have to be hospitalized often, if at all. However, if there is a need for hospitalization, you can choose the hospital you prefer. Simply get in touch with the hospital and provide them with all the necessary information. It would also be helpful to send any medical records that will assist in your treatment.

What if I have Medicare?

DPC physicians, who have "opted out" of Medicare billing, prioritize spending more time with patients rather than navigating complex rules and regulations. To receive services, you will need to sign a one-time waiver stating that neither you nor your doctor will directly bill Medicare. However, Medicare will still cover any laboratory testing, imaging, medication, or hospitalizations recommended by our office.

How do I know if this is the right practice for me?

Schedule a meet and greet to get a better sense of our practice. Although we won't be providing medical advice during this visit, it will allow you to know us, understand what we do, and get familiar with our practice style. This way, you can determine if we can provide the recommended type of care.

What happens if I change my mind?

We are committed to ensuring your satisfaction. Should you decide to stop using our services, we will refund the remaining balance of your service fees. However, please note that if you choose to rejoin our practice in the future, you will be required to pay another enrollment fee.

Can I gift a membership to someone else?

We are enthusiastic about this idea! If you are aware of someone who cannot afford medical care or is on our waiting list, you have the opportunity to assist them by offering a year of services. Your generous contribution can either be acknowledged with your name or kept anonymous. Please inform us if you are interested in participating in this initiative.

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