Editor’s Note: The following information was submitted by a reader, Dr. Eric Potter of Spring Hill, Tennessee. His practice is called Sanctuary Medical Care and Consulting, PLLC. I am happy to write about a Christian business on a case by case basis. I found this medical practice’s business model intriguing enough to write about. I set this article up as a question and answer. THIS IS NOT AN EVALUATION OF WHETHER HIS BUSINESS MODEL IS EFFECTIVE; THAT IS FOR YOU TO DECIDE. Here is the article:
Q: Can you email me some info about your clinic and how your business model operates? We can do this by email. Your website mentions a monthly fee for a client…why would a person consider doing that on months they are not visiting you? What areas of medicine do you practice? Are you a hospitalist?
A: We are two Christian primary care physicians who practiced in the conventional system for years, but our conscience led us to find a more Biblical approach to healthcare. We knew that seeing 25 or more patients a day would never allow us to care for patients as whole persons from a Christian worldview.
We opened our office doors in September of 2015, although I had been practicing part time with house calls and 1 or 2 days a week in another office space since June 2014.
Direct Pay Care is more similar to how medicine was practiced decades ago before the insurance industry grew into its current state of control. Physicians set reasonable fees and accepted payment directly from patient. Direct Pay Care or Direct Primary Care (nearly synonymous terms) simply sets up a payment model with a monthly fee for primary care services. This includes visits, emails, phone calls, and text messages as needed without copays for each interaction. Removing the physician’s need for billing staff fighting with insurance companies, they can see fewer patients per day, spending more time with each patient, and care for far more of patient’s needs. Without the pressure of keeping a packed schedule, physicians can usually see patients within 24 hours of calling for appointment.
In the insurance model, primary care physicians must employ more staff for billing, enlist more patients (typically 2500-3000 versus 400-800 for our model), and spend maybe 12-15 minutes per patient, seeing 25 or more per day. Some offices have 2 or 3 weeks wait list for acute needs.
I practice internal medicine and pediatrics. My partner practices family medicine. Basically we care for newborns to those over 100 years old, but don’t provide obstetrics or surgical services beyond sutures and skin biopsies. We provide outpatient care and currently do not see patients in the hospital.
Another aspect of our practice is a functional medicine approach. While not originating from a Christian worldview, we believe it actually reflects the Biblical principles of whole person care and utilizing natural resources for healing. It also aims to treat root causes rather than simply covering up symptoms with medications. Once identifying the root causes, we utilize both natural and pharmaceutical approaches in patient care.
Running our own clinic allows us not only the time to minister to patients, but the freedom to pray and counsel where appropriate.
I hope that answers a number of your questions. Of note, we are adjusting our name in the coming 2 weeks, but I can reveal that when official.
Q: Thanks for writing back. I’m wanting to make sure I have a good understanding of this business model. A patient may visit 2 or however many times one month and the fee would be the same (the monthly fee)? If one of your patients needed a referral to a specialist, for insurance requirements, would that still work? W
hat would a patient do if admitted to the hospital since you are not a hospitalist?
A:Yes, one monthly fee regardless of visit number.
Patient also receives labs and supplements and generic meds (in house small pharmacy) at our cost if they are paying cash. If they want to submit labs to insurance or take a prescription to a pharmacy for their insurance, they can do that.
If they need a specialist, they can use whatever insurance at that physician. However, many do not have insurance or use cost sharing ministries like Samaritan Ministries or Medi-Share. They pay the discounted price and submit bills to these ministries for reimbursement. Often patients get considerable saving by using our pharmacy and labs. You would be surprised at the markup on meds and vitamins and labs.
If admitted to a hospital, a hospitalist would care for them with us coordinating as needed.
For more information:
Eric Potter MD
Sanctuary Medical Care and Consulting, PLLC
Wholistic Healthcare for the glory of God (Col. 3:23)