A Unique, Affordable, Efficient Way to Visit the Doctor
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Born and raised in Fishers, Dr. Risheet Patel attended Hamilton Southeastern High School before heading to New York to pursue medical school. Ten years ago, he moved back to the area to work for a large hospital network. In doing so, he witnessed some inefficiencies in care, prompting him to open Fishers Direct Family Care, a Direct Primary Care family medical office, in May 2017.
“We do things a bit differently here,” Patel says. “Instead of charging for individual visits, in-office testing, and procedures, we cover everything through a monthly membership fee. This fee includes an unlimited number of office visits, labs and other testing, as well as online communications between the patient and our office.”
It’s a new concept that is quickly gaining traction. In Central Indiana, Patel estimates that 8-10 offices are offering it. Patients appreciate many aspects of the model. For starters, the waiting room rarely sees waiting. That’s because once Patel has initially met the patient in person, going forward he can handle certain issues and ailments, such as a sinus infection, bronchitis, or a skin rash, via an e-visit, Skype or a phone call. The same goes for delivering lab results.
“This way I’m available for acute care needs, allowing me to schedule same-day and next-day appointments for sick visits,” Patel says. “We want to make sure that if a patient has a serious issue, I can get them in and cared for quickly.”
The biggest difference is the pricing model, so instead of charging for each individual service, the patient is charged a reasonable monthly fee.
“The cost is like what you’d pay for a gym membership or cell phone bill,” says Patel, noting that it’s $60/month for adults and $40/month for children (with discounts available for annual plans and families).
Younger generations are drawn to the technology side of the program, while those with chronic conditions are grateful to have easy access to their doctor. Another draw is the low price of medications and lab fees. Patel’s office negotiates pricing with lab providers and pharmacies to provide options at a reduced or wholesale cost.
“As medical professionals, we are always asking, ‘How do we innovate? How do we provide better care at a lower cost?’” Patel says. “This is just one way that we can provide high-quality primary care at a much-reduced price over what it would cost for a traditional insurance-based office.”
Though it takes some people time to understand how it works and what is covered, once they see the convenience and value, they’re enthusiastic.
“There’s the dollars and cents value but also the value of knowing you have easy access to me as your primary care physician,” Patel says. “Not to mention the time and effort saved in getting in quickly and not having to spend two hours waiting to be seen.”
Patel is thrilled to be working back in his home town.
“I’m constantly running into old classmates, teachers, and friends,” says Patel, who is married to his wife Aimee, also a physician. “I love seeing old connections and making new ones.”
For more information about the practice or pricing structure, visit fishersdfc.com.