The direct primary care (DPC) model is unique because of its financial structure. The DPC practice operates on patient membership fees, rather than per-visit fees or insurance reimbursements. Most independent physicians think of practice management in terms of patient billing and insurance coordination, tasks that are not necessarily a part of the DPC practice. However, there is more to a practice manager’s responsibilities than the financial side; a practice manager can help the DPC practice run efficiently and profitably.
As described in a recent post in Physicians Practice, practice managers are “experts in operations management, financial management, human resources management, organizational governance, risk and compliance management, and patient-centered care.” If your DPC practice has staff, which most do, your practice manager can take on the responsibility of managing all of the details of scheduling, payroll, and other HR functions so you can focus on your patients.
Physicians Practice also suggests that practice managers can assist the independent physician in a DPC practice with tasks that improve the quality of patient care and reduce costs. Practice managers trained appropriately, for example, can use the practice’s electronic health record (EHR) system to “identify and group patients with chronic diseases and/or conditions, such as diabetes …. to help practices better tailor their treatment approaches and target various patient populations.”
Using a practice manager in a DPC practice can help optimize the operations of the practice, giving the independent physician more time to spend with patients. While there may be less – or no – billing involved in a DPC, there are many other functions best left to someone trained in efficient practice management.
When searching for a qualified practice manager, keep in mind that ensuring a high quality patient experience is a critical driver for membership-based, direct care practices. Search for staff with excellent communication skills, who can build strong relationships and provide a welcoming front office presence when patients visit the office.
Elation Health has published a Direct Care Playbook to answer questions about practice management, marketing, staffing, and many other topics that will help you, as an independent physician operating a DPC, run a successful practice.