Navigating Healthcare with Direct Primary Care: A Patient’s Journey

How Our Primary Care Clinic Helped One Patient Overcome Chronic Acid Reflux

One of the main questions our primary care clinic in Overland Park receives is, “How does direct primary care through ProPartners differ from a private practice or urgent care?”

Our direct primary care (DPC) model is designed to deliver better care, better overall patient health, and more affordable medical costs. This is accomplished through multiple avenues.

  • Patients have 24/7 direct access to their primary care provider, enabling them to call, text, or email any time. This removes the barrier between patients and their physicians and facilitates faster resolutions for most medical issues.
  • The DPC model streamlines billing by charging a flat monthly fee for primary care services. This means no office visit fees, no copays, no insurance claims process, and no worrying about deductibles, thereby reducing healthcare expenses, especially for those who require more appointments than the average patient.

When comparing direct primary care to traditional healthcare models, it’s helpful to frame it using real life scenarios. Let’s explore one patient’s experience with direct primary care as he sought help for chronic acid reflux.

In accordance with HIPAA compliance laws and regulations, names and personal details have been changed to protect the identity of the patient.

Direct Primary Care Patient Profile: Bill, age 43

Bill had been one of Dr. Burns’ patients for nearly a decade. He was a moderately healthy individual, although he admittedly liked to drink on weekends and tended to indulge in unhealthy and spicy food. During the COVID pandemic, Bill gained 20 pounds and started to get heartburn on a more frequent basis. Bill also felt like certain foods were getting stuck in his throat when he attempted to swallow.

After about a month of using over-the-counter measures to treat his symptoms, Bill got in touch with Dr. Burns, suspecting he had developed an ulcer. Naturally, Bill asked the two questions that most patients have: “What’s wrong with me?” and “What should I do about it?”

Phase One: Exam and Diagnosis

The first thing Dr. Burns did was perform a comprehensive exam. In addition to running some tests, Dr. Burns also asked Bill several questions about his symptoms, his diet, and his medical background. By taking the time to gather sufficient information and exam data, Dr. Burns was able to surmise that the esophagus and/or stomach was the source of Bill’s issue.

However, Dr. Burns’ diagnosis remained differential, meaning Bill’s symptoms indicated he may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), esophageal stricture/narrowing, a peptic ulcer, or esophageal/stomach cancer. Fortunately, Dr. Burns was confident that Bill’s medical issue was not life-threatening and would resolve with the right medication.

Phase Two: Initial Treatment

Dr. Burns discussed a few treatment options with Bill, eventually deciding that a prescription stomach acid medication, called a proton pump inhibitor, was the best first step. Dr. Burns explained to Bill that one of two things would happen after getting on medication.

  1. Bill’s symptoms will fully resolve, and no further treatments will be necessary.
  2. Bill’s symptoms won’t resolve, and he would need an upper endoscopy exam for Dr. Burns to learn more about his medical issue.

Phase Three: Referral Outside the Primary Care Clinic

After two weeks, Bill’s symptoms had not fully resolved. Dr. Burns required additional testing to zero in on a diagnosis. He referred Bill to a gastroenterologist who performed an upper endoscopy exam. The results ruled out cancer and other concerning conditions.

Phase Four: Resolution

As it happens, Bill was suffering from chronic acid reflux, meaning Dr. Burns could fully treat the issue by continuing the original medication he had prescribed. Although direct primary care doctors can handle approximately 90% of patient medical issues without outside assistance, there are cases like Bill’s where a specialist is required to rule out life-threatening conditions.

Why Direct Primary Care Worked for Bill

The advantage of working with our direct primary care clinic in Overland Park is two-fold. First, Bill could directly access Dr. Burns and arrange same-day appointments to more quickly address his issue. Under the traditional healthcare model, he likely would have waited at least two weeks before a physician saw him. Plus, he would have been charged for office visits and copays.

The other big advantage that our DPC model afforded Bill was the quality one-on-one time he got with Dr. Burns to fully explore his medical issue. By being thorough during the initial exam, Dr. Burns effectively narrowed Bill’s issue down to a handful of possibilities. Moreover, it turned out his initial treatment method was the correct one; the medication simply needed more time to fully resolve Bill’s symptoms.

What Bill truly appreciated about working with Dr. Burns is that he deduced what was wrong with him in a way that gave him concrete information, perspective, and context. Dr. Burns also allayed Bill’s fears about worst-case scenarios, providing him peace of mind as they worked through the issue.

Finally, Dr. Burns took the time to develop a personalized treatment plan and series of diet and behavioral recommendations to reduce Bill’s risk of recurrence. By committing to Dr. Burns’ plan, Bill remains symptom-free and feels healthier than ever.

How to Find Direct Primary Care in Kansas City and Overland Park

Under the current healthcare model, it’s more difficult than ever for patients to see their primary care providers. The nation’s physician shortage combined with a rising demand for healthcare services means patients are getting less time with their doctors, resulting in an overall decline in the quality of care they receive.

By becoming a member of ProPartners direct primary care practice, residents of the greater Kansas City area receive:

  • Comprehensive primary care that’s covered under a flat monthly fee.
  • 24/7 direct access to your primary care doctor.
  • Same-day and next-day appointments.
  • Unlimited doctor’s visits at no extra cost.
  • Improved outcomes through enhanced quality of care.

Learn more about our direct primary care membership plans and pricing. Call us at (913) 451-5709 to get answers to your questions or to schedule a meet-and-greet with one of our physicians.