Choosing an EHR for DPC practices

Choosing an electronic health record (EHR) system is an important step for Direct Primary Care (DPC) practices. Since a DPC practice usually operates on a “retainer” system, the practice must be managed in a cost-efficient manner while still providing quality patient care. The right EHR can certainly help in making that happen. What are some considerations a DPC should factor into the choice of an EHR?

Although DPCs may differ somewhat in their structure, the defining characteristic of a DPC is that the practice offers patients “the full range of comprehensive primary services, including routine care, regular checkups, preventive care, and care coordination in exchange for a flat, recurring retainer fee,” according to an article posted by AAFP. DPC physicians typically see fewer patients during a day and are able to focus more on the quality of their patient’s care.

Given this structure, an EHR system must enable the DPC physicians and their patients to communicate with each other using seamless, secure messaging. Elation’s EHR solution provides this capability and more, to support the physician-patient relationship. Patient engagement is a significant contributor to the quality of their healthcare management plan, a primary focus of the DPC practice.

A DPC practice must also streamline its overhead, to remain solvent while focusing on patient care. Elation’s Clinical First EHR offers DPCs the tools they need to minimize practice overhead for more efficient practice management. With the right EHR solution, physicians in a DPC practice spend less time on paperwork and more time with the patients themselves. Time wasted searching for information or waiting for information from other providers is virtually eliminated.

The AAFP states that given the DPC practice structure, the physicians in the practice “are no longer generating revenue solely on the basis of how many patients they see per day, [and] many report that they have significantly more time to spend with patients in face-to-face visits.” Patient focus is also Elation’s goal and we have designed our EHR solution to help DPC spend more time with their patients and less time with their patient records.

Gabby Marquez
June 21, 2017


What is Direct Primary Care?

Direct Primary Care (DPC) is a model of primary care that gives physicians alternatives to traditional fee-for-service insurance billing. Direct primary care physicians charge their patients a retainer, whether it be monthly, quarterly, or annually that is used to cover services. Often supplemental insurance for emergencies situations is suggested.

The DPC Model

Spending more time with patients is the ultimate goal of DPC. The core principles are patient-centric and prioritize the patient-physician bond. The unique payment structure of direct care eliminates many of the administrative burdens physicians face, freeing up more time to focus on a patient’s care plan.

Engaging with patients is another priority for DPC physicians. Patient engagement can include sending and receiving messages with patients, communicating lab results and discussing general health information. Keeping a channel of open communication with patients builds trust and subsequently strengthens the patient-physician relationship.

Benefits of DPC for Physicians

DPC rewards physicians for treating the whole patient. Because DPC physicians are not as concerned with the number of patients seen per day, physicians can spend more quality, face to face time with patients and can develop stronger relationships with their patient population.

DPC physicians also reported reduced overhead costs at their practices compared to traditional primary care practices. Many of the administrative duties are reduced because there is no longer a need to hire staff that handles third-party insurance claims.

Simplifying the billing and administrative work for physicians also provides DPC physicians with a better work-life balance. Physicians experiencing burnout might find the schedule of a DPC physician, with a more intimate patient panel, appealing.

Benefits of DPC for patients

Smaller patient panels for physicians leads to more individualized and personalized care for patients. DPC physicians are easier to access and care is timely and convenient for the patient. Many DPC physicians even offer extended hours and are always available via phone.

Beyond the greater access to comprehensive care, patients find that DPC care is oftentimes more affordable and more flexible to their unique needs.

Whether you are interested in starting a DPC practice,  just starting out a DPC practice or a DPC veteran, doing your research and staying up to date on the latest on this ever-evolving and innovate model of care can help you achieve your practice goals. Learn more about direct primary care and the greater direct care movement by subscribing to this blog or downloading our recently released DPC playbook! 

Greg Miller
June 15, 2017