Direct care physicians tend to be heavy users of technology in their practices, due to the demands of retaining patient memberships. Practices need access to a wide-range of technology and services, from patient marketing platforms to labs and imaging services. Which technology is optimized for and best suited to meet the needs of direct care practices? Physicians should ask themselves:
- Can I document visits without any mandatory billing and quality reporting workflows?
- Does this platform have integrated practice management tools?
- Can I leverage patient engagement features?
The electronic health record (EHR) is a critical first choice for any physician starting a direct care practice. This tool will be the main technology a physician engages with throughout their day and must keep workflows efficient and inform decisions at the point of care. Some key questions to consider when choosing an EHR:
- Will this system allow me to document without compromising patient-physician interactions?
- Is there a focus on care quality rather than reimbursements?
Direct care practices are growing in popularity with independent physicians as well as their patients. In the direct care model, physicians see fewer patients in a day and offer those patients the opportunity to communicate with them outside the office visit, to ensure higher quality outcomes. As AAFP explains, “The opportunity to spend more time interacting with patients and providing ongoing follow-up services is at the heart of the patient-centered care provided in DPC practice settings.”
Communication is an important aspect of the direct care practice. Online tools that enable the direct care physician to communicate with patients who may have questions or concerns after hours or who need to clarify instructions for care or medications play a key role in the practice’s success. Online tools for communicating with potential patients, including a website and social media, are also critical, giving the direct care physician a virtual platform for educating those patients and marketing their practice.
Technology can help direct care physicians measure and analyze the goals and metrics they set for their practice. Once these goals are outlined, measured, and evaluated, direct care physicians should analyze their performance and ask important questions about their business performance. By clearly indicating the tactics and strategies employed, providers can then isolate what worked and what didn’t work.