Mon. Sep 27th, 2021

Have you ever watched water boil? I know, strange question. But imagine experiencing it for the first time without any background knowledge about basic chemistry. You begin with a clear, transparent fluid which slowly begins to produce a white mist. Then seemingly out of nowhere, bubbles appear inside the fluid and rise to the top; slowly at first, but then violently as the whole liquid comes alive. Pretty cool and potentially surprising for anyone experiencing it for the first time. Getting new patients in a DPC is kind of like watching water boil.

I’ve now officially been “open” for 1 month. My past 4 weeks has almost been exclusively marketing. Mostly business meetings through Chamber of Commerce, 212, and BNI, with some local engagements as well as a tiny trial of digital media. There’s an old marketing rule of 7 which states a person must see an ad or a message at least 7 times before they take any action on it. Besides for those few who intuitively get DPC, I’d estimate the number for us to be higher because not only do we need to make our impressions, people have to comprehend the fundamental change in how we do things. This is the still water phase.

Within a few weeks of having my business Google set up, I started getting calls. Given, most of these calls were looking for other doctors. I still don’t quite know why or how my number got confused with another office, especially only after I started running digital ads. There were other calls asking for one time visits as well as Medicare patients (which I’m currently not taking because of opt out restriction). These false starts actually didn’t bother me because it meant my number and name was out there and people knew it was some type of doctor office. False starts are fine because they are precursors to real starts. This is the mist.

My first few patients were test patients (meaning friends I signed up for free with the intent of having them vet my systems) so I had a sneak peek of the new patient emails. That did not dampen the excitement I had when I got my first unexpected new patient email. Hint, whether knowingly or not, creates a very positive Pavlovian reaction to their logo by associating it with the “You have a new patient email”. Seeing that little blue heart in my email is as exciting as getting into college or med school all over again and again. This is the bubble. You don’t see it coming and then it happens. I’m currently at this stage. No steady stream or guaranteed word of mouth yet, but something’s happening, and who knows, the water may start dancing soon.

Back to the analogy of the alien seeing water boil for the first time. Imagine there were two pots of water. One undergoes the transformation while the other stays still. Someone would then have to explain the force driving transformation, heat. Water only boils when heat is constantly applied. If the heat stops at any stage, the water goes back to being still and clear. Some people assume when they start their practice, the universe gets a notification and patients will start streaming in. Quite the contrary, getting attention takes time, energy, money. In other words, we have to bring the heat and keep it burning if we expect to see results.

21370cookie-checkDPC Diary Part 7

By Kenneth Qiu, MD

Dr. Qiu will be moderating our Resident and Student section. Kenneth Qiu, MD recently finished his family medicine residency and has just opened a DPC practice in the Richmond, VA area ( He has been involved with the DPC community since medical school and has worked to increase awareness of DPC for medical students and residents across the country. He’s presented at three previous DPC Summits.

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