Office technology 101 for a DPC practice

Running a successful direct primary care (DPC) practice requires taking advantage of both technology tools as well as quality human connections that are the root of quality care. Office technology for a DPC practice includes resources for tracking patient health, coordinating with other providers, and communicating with patients conveniently and securely.

DPC providers and their teams tend to use technology heavily in their practices, given the nature of the DPC healthcare delivery model. The DPC practice has unique needs in terms of marketing, education, memberships, communication, and coordinating with specialty providers such as labs and imaging services.

The increased use of telehealth throughout the COVID-19 pandemic also requires technology tools that enable the provider and the patient to interact appropriately for quality outcomes. A focus on care quality is imperative for a DPC practice where a tool for billing and reimbursement is not necessarily a concern.

Elation’s electronic health record (EHR) is widely adopted as an office technology solution for DPC practices ranging from solo physicians to large employer-based management organizations.

DPC practices have typically been ahead of the trend in regard to offering telehealth options to patients. Technology to enable remote care can be crucial, particularly in times of a public health crisis. Telehealth applications for a DPC practice can include:

  • Live (synchronous) videoconferencing: a two-way audiovisual link between a patient and a care provider in real time.
  • Store-and-forward (asynchronous) videoconferencing: transmission of a recorded health history to a health practitioner, usually a specialist.
  • Remote patient monitoring (RPM): the use of connected electronic tools to record personal health and medical data in one location for review by a provider in another location, usually at a different time.
  • Mobile health (mHealth): health care and public health information provided through mobile devices. The information may include general educational information, targeted texts, and notifications about disease outbreaks.

Communication is a critical aspect of the DPC model. Patients expect and enjoy the ability to reach out to their provider before and after the visit, with questions or to clarify care instructions. The right communication tool enables the provider to advise the patient, to respond quickly to concerns, and to reassure the patient as to whether an office visit may or may not be necessary.

A tool that gives patients access to their own healthcare information is also essential for a successful DPC practice. Patients who can view their medical records easily and with confidence are more likely to become fully engaged in their own care plans, increasing the potential for quality outcomes.Private messaging, membership management, patient access, and collaborative tools are all part of the right EHR solution for the DPC practice. Basic technology such as a high quality internet connection is also important for maintaining and updating the practice website, posting on social media, and other strategies designed to market the practice to ensure its continued growth and success.