THE LAUNCHING OF A MOVEMENT
Founding Announcement Letter
Dr. Ryan Neuhofel, DO, MPH
Dec. 25, 2017
My fellow physician,
During my medical training, I saw angst-ridden doctors fret under stacks of paperwork and, when technology advanced, from behind a computer screen. Despite their best intentions, these distractions impeded any potential of transparent and rewarding relationships with patients. Even with tremendous sacrifice, providing great care under these constraints seemed impossible.
Many doctors were passionate about the plight of their profession. They suggested becoming active in organizations and politics as a means to fix these problems. But, rarely did I see physicians do anything tangible beyond attending meetings, paying membership dues, and voting for a preferred party. This approach empowered entities outside of the exam room, but did nothing to improve the struggles of the average primary care physician.
Despite this cynicism, I held on to the hope that I could someday become the physician I described in my medical school application. I didn’t know exactly how but was determined to plot my own path.
When I started my practice in 2011, I knew there would be immense skepticism from my colleagues. Many days I was unsure of my own crazy ideas and their potential impacts. Growing my practice came with high and lows, but most days left me feeling like I was alone on an island. Friends and colleagues would ask sheepishly, “How is that practice thing working for you?” and be surprised that I was optimistic and still in business. Some would whisper, “Good luck. I am rooting for you and hope you succeed.”, but not dare say such aloud.
As the Direct Primary Care (DPC) movement grew, I connected with like-minded physicians who were also fed up with a broken system. We shared the successes and struggles of our growing practices. Although we were each creating our own little universes, our experiences were strikingly similar. I was refreshed by their talents, energy, and dedication. Ultimately, I knew that these were the physicians that would fix healthcare in America.
These were fiercely independent cowboys and cowgirls. Just like me, they were skeptical that the powers-that-be would bring sanity back to our honored profession. We bemoaned the fact that existing organizations failed to recognize and protect our professional interests.
Despite small numbers, our individual stories occasionally caught the attention of the media and traditional medical institutions. Increasingly, physicians sought advice on how to create their ideal practices. Forums like this one exploded with mentorship, education, and activism.
Our grassroots movement hasn’t grown due to financial investments, cronyism, or legislative actions; it’s been the result of the grit and creativity of amazing individuals showing their communities a better way. This must continue be the heart of our movement.
We now realize the transformative potential of the DPC model and are at the advent of moving beyond novelty. But, many hurdles exist for us to achieve that vision. The challenges ahead of us are immense. Yet, I can think of no better group of people to overcome these odds.
A unified front of passionate DPC doctors will be helpful in achieving these shared goals. For many years, we have had conversations about who represents us. Utilizing existing organizations has yielded some benefits, but competing interests makes change from within painfully slow. Despite the increasing amount of resources for DPC doctors, there are some things this jumbled approach cannot accomplish.
As the DPC model enters the mainstream, we must be aware that our vision is a threat to existing powers and profits. These forces will not remain on the sidelines. Undoubtedly, they will attempt to co-opt, squash, and pervert the essence of who we are. We must stand on guard to preserve and protect what we know to be true.
While you-- the individual, independent physician-- should remain the soul of DPC, credibility in some arenas can be tough to come by single-handedly. We have each proven ourselves capable of carrying boulders uphill, but moving mountains will require a collective effort.
Now is the time for us to unite our rebellion with a common home base: the Direct Primary Care Alliance
Discussions about forming a new DPC organization have been ongoing for years. Such an undertaking has proven to be immensely complicated. However, I believe we now have the right structure, people, and timing to create the seminal grassroots DPC organization.
The DPC Alliance will provide vision, leadership, and guidance to the Direct Primary Care (DPC) community through physician-led education, mentorship, advocacy, and organizational intelligence.
We invite you to join us in this Alliance. With a generous volunteering of time and money by our Founding Members (see list below), membership in the Alliance is free for 2018. Future membership dues, starting in 2019, will be determined by our members in a fully transparent manner.
As we draw closer to our launch date of January 1, we will be making announcements about how to join and get more involved.
It’s time to restore primary care to what it once was: Direct. Primary. Care.
W. Ryan Neuhofel, DO, MPH
President, DPC Alliance