Qliance's demise brings questions about direct primary care model
Direct primary care (DPC) took a hit last week with the closure of Seattle-based Qliance, which was founded as a leader in direct primary care (DPC).
At its peak, Qliance served 35,000 patients at clinics in the Seattle area, but that number dropped to 13,000 earlier this year after closing five clinics and losing some of its large employer clients.
Qliance said its patients’ medical claims were 20% lower than other patients because they enjoyed care that led to less emergency room and specialist care.
In announcing that Qliance was closing, Dr. Erika Bliss, CEO of Qliance Management, said the healthcare system “resisted us and made it harder and harder to survive.”
“It’s not surprising, given that the healthcare industry represents 19% of the GDP of this country – that represents entities with a lot of money and power that are not about to give those up without a fight,” wrote Bliss.
DPC has become a trending care model as physicians search for ways to improve patient care and reduce cost. Supporters of DPC trumpet the benefit of charging patients a monthly fee, removing health insurance and working directly with the paying patient.
The number of DPC practices increased from less than 20 in 2010 to more than 400 earlier this year. Amy Walsh, a family physician operating a DPC practice in Raleigh, North Carolina, told Healthcare Dive earlier this year that she views DPC as doctors taking “medicine back” and changing healthcare back to a system that's between a doctor and a patient.
The news of Qliance’s demise is disappointing, but it also shows DPC still faces hurdles. Earlier this year, Eric Helman, chief strategy officer at Hodges Mace, told Healthcare Dive he predicted DPC faced “several significant headwinds, which will inhibit widespread adoption.” DPC's issues include the Affordable Care Act requiring payers to provide free preventive care and maximum out-of-pocket limits and the perceived notion that DPC creates a two-tiered healthcare system of the haves and have-nots.
“DPC has a place to quietly serve the minority but I fear if it grows too rapidly, it will be crushed by the forces deeply invested in the third-party payer system,” he said.
- Kaiser News Network Despite A Growing Appetite, Buffet-Style Flat-Fee Clinics Shutter In Seattle
- Healthcare Dive Could direct primary care go mainstream?
- Healthcare Dive Armed with a mission to 'remix' primary care, ZDoggMD rode into Las Vegas