Kibitz (CHAT) 4.0 with Joel Fankhauser, MD & Dan Weeden, MD - Direct Care Clinic of NWA

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This week we were so thankful to chat with Dr. Joel Fankhauser and Dr. Dan Weeden about their new venture - Direct Care Clinic of NWA.

Dr. Joel Fankhauser and Dr. Dan Weeden will be leaving Mercy Health Systems to open this new model for direct primary care opening in January 2015.  Their space will be located at 2103 S. 54th Street in Rogers located in Village on the Creeks office complex.


The direct primary care model is a growing model of care that acknowledges that physicians should not be dictated by an insurance company but should be based on the trust relationship that a physician and family can build.  The new model allows physicians to spend less time dealing with the rules of insurers and more time with patients, and patients can expect prompter appointments, more time for visits, and addressing of their health in a way that is right for them rather than for their insurer.

We are so thankful for their time this week in chatting with us...

[caption id="attachment_3598" align="alignleft" width="346"]biopic-joelfankhauser Dr. Joel Fankhauser, MD[/caption]

What led you to this new direct primary care model?  

I decided to pursue this model when it became clear to me that our current system encourages physicians to overbook themselves, which encourages shorter visits, which means I have less time than necessary to address the true health concerns of a family or individual.  The American health care system does a lot of things well but in primary care it pays for volume.  Oftentimes, by asking a seemingly innocuous question, I open the door to a difficult conversation that I then either have to choose to address and then I am running behind, making it harder for me to serve well all of the other patients behind them, or not address it at that moment and lose a chance to truly help someone.  This model allows me to have time and margin in my day to provide high quality care to my patients in a way that is cost effective and affordable.

What are the benefits for patients who choose this method of care?

Direct primary care has several advantages to it.  First, by allowing me more time with my patients, it allows me to address health concerns more completely.  Second, because I will have less patients, it gives me the time and flexibility to be available sooner and often directly rather than through a front desk.  Third, because our delivery of care is not dictated by insurance companies, I can provide care in the way that makes the most sense.  Currently, physicians get paid by visit, which means anything that is addressed outside of an office visit is not paid for.  This makes doctors' offices much more likely to require visits for things that in our office routinely would not.  For example, if you called with worsening sinus pain and drainage for 5 days to a typical office, you would expect them to schedule you an appointment.   You know you have a sinus infection.  The doctor knows you have a sinus infection.  You come in because the doctor wants to get paid for his or her time and work.  In our new office, if you called me on the phone in the same scenario, I could go over a set of questions to ensure that it was safe to address your concerns over the phone and end up treating your sinus infection without you leaving home or work.  Finally, because we will limit ourselves to a number of patients so that we can actually know our patients and because one of us will be accessible at all times, it is not ever going to be the case that a patient gets sent to the ER simply because we are too full to see them that day or because we are trying to address a problem in the night and do not know who a patient is.  Direct primary care should generally be differentiated from "concierge medicine" because most concierge clinics charge a monthly or annual fee as well as the typical office visit fees which means a concierge practice is well out of the range of a typical family.

[caption id="attachment_3602" align="alignright" width="346"]biopic-danweeden Dr. Dan Weeden, MD[/caption]

How does this model tie into the local medical community? Why is it gaining popularity? 

We plan on continuing to work well with Mercy.  We have worked with them for many years and we realize that some people need to go to a hospital even if they are taken care of well in clinic.

Direct primary care is a growing model because it addresses the concerns that people have about their "regular" doctor.  How many times have you or a friend complained that you could not get in to see your doctor, or that you waited for an hour and then felt rushed?  How often do you wonder if the doctor ever even got your message when you call?  How often have you had to come in for something that you thought, "Why did I have to come in for this?"  It returns the patient-doctor relationship to what it used to be and what it should be.

It is becoming clear with this model that insurance is not needed for primary care. You need and are required to have insurance for the unexpected and catastrophic events that you can’t afford to pay for. The care in a primary care practice is routine and affordable, so insurance just adds a level of cost and red tape.

When is the open date of the new clinic?  What do you expect as your patient capacity?

We are scheduled to open January 5, 2015.  We expect to have about 700 patients each (about 1/3 of what a typical doctor has).  We will take patients of all ages regardless of their current health.  We will take all patients regardless of insurance (or none at all) with the exception of patients on Medicaid and Tricare because of eccentricities in the rules that dictate these programs.

To learn more about their new clinic, visit their website here -

Last modified onTuesday, 15 March 2016 13:25