Why Direct Primary Care?
By Dr. Christine Hoffman of Vanguard Direct Family Medicine, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I have always wanted to be a doctor. Growing up watching Marcus Welby MD and frequenting doctor’s offices with my mother and grandmother fostered my love for the field of medicine. Similar to Dr. Welby, I wanted to have a personal, one on one, relationship with my patients. I wanted to be able to spend time with my patients and comfort them in times of sickness and sadness and rejoice with them in times of health and happiness.
When I interviewed in Murfreesboro nearly 20 years ago, I knew I found my home. It was a medium sized, beautiful city filled with kind and friendly people. Yet it was close to a larger city where the Nashville Predators, Tennessee Oilers (Titans), and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center was located. My dream was coming true!
In 1998, I was first employed by Middle Tennessee Medical Center and then in 2000, I formed a private group practice with three other doctors. It was a great practice of established patients, wonderful partners, and a fabulous staff. I was able to deliver care like Marcus Welby. However, over the years, my vision began to fade. I became more and more aggravated with the dysfunctional healthcare system. I was spending more time on needless paperwork and less time with my patients delivering care. This administrative burden has gotten so bad that many doctors are leaving medicine because they are so burnt out. I had to either find a new career, or a better way to deliver care to my patients. I prayed for guidance of what to do. While at a conference in Chattanooga, TN, I happened to meet Dr. Matt Hitchcock, who had started a Direct Primary Care practice in Chattanooga, and I spoke to him about his practice. Could this type of practice be the answer to my prayers?
I did some research on Direct Primary Care (DPC) and attended a DPC Summit conference in Kansas City to learn more about this movement. I met several doctors across the country who actually loved their jobs! I spoke with Julie Gunther from Idaho, Josh Umbehr and Jennifer Harader both from Kansas, and countless other supportive, enthusiastic doctors. I began to feel my passion for medicine re-surface. After that weekend, I knew I had to open a DPC practice in Murfreesboro, Tennessee! Direct Primary Care allows doctors to deliver care to their patients, “the old-fashioned way.” It is how I envisioned medicine to be when I decided to go to medical school. It allows medical decisions to be made by patients and their doctors without the infuriating cost and intrusion of an insurance company. Doctors are able to spend precious time with their patient educating them and together they are able to best meet each patient’s needs.
I am not alone in my enthusiasm for Direct Primary Care. Over the past few years, it has gained attention both in the medical and business communities. There have been interviews on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, and articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes Magazine. Even Congress is supporting this model of care. Many patients are saving so much money on discounted diagnostic tests, labs, and medications. It more than pays for their affordable monthly memberships. As an example, I had a new patient last month who needed an MRI of her spine. She told me she saved $1500 for her MRI before she came to see me so she could have it done. Because of the cost savings of DPC, her MRI did not cost $1500, it was only $277. She was able to save $1200! Another patient was paying $70 a month for one of his blood pressure medications. I was able to get that same medication at a cost to him of $2.90 for a 90 day supply. He is able to save over $100 a month!
Besides the cost savings, it is the personal care that patients are able to receive that is so satisfying for me. I am now able to spend up to an hour with each patient. I am really able to get to know them and their healthcare needs. I hope you make the decision to join Vanguard Direct Family Medicine. The word “Vanguard” by definition means the forefront of an action or movement. This is why I chose this as the name for my Direct Primary Care Practice. I am honored to be the pioneer of the Direct Primary Care movement in Murfreesboro and to be able to provide access and affordability to my patients.
Please look at my website VanguardFamilymedicine.net to learn more about me and my practice. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.