Your direct primary care (DPC) practice is a business. Although your primary goal is, of course, the quality care of your patients, to be successful in your business endeavors, you need to plan just like any other business. DPC business planning for 2021 must take into consideration a number of factors, given the environment that has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
DPC practices were engaged in virtual healthcare long before the pandemic. You have probably encouraged your patients to contact you via email or text outside the normal office visit, whenever they have questions or need more information about their healthcare. Other types of healthcare provider models are now catching up with that concept, as telehealth becomes more popular during the pandemic.
Part of your business plan will need to address how you will compete with these other practices for new patients. Take the time to research practices near you and learn more about how they operate as well as how they promote their services. For your marketing efforts, you can emphasize how the DPC structure continues to be different, saving patients money on insurance premiums and providing personalized care stemming from your provider-patient relationships.
Financial projections are an important part of your DPC practice’s business planning for 2021 but may be a bit more difficult to determine. As a DPC practice, you will not have to consider insurance rate or coverage changes, but you will need to have a firm grasp of the number of patient memberships you’ll be able to obtain and sustain throughout the year.
Specific strategies for securing and keeping patients will need to be included in your 2021 business plan. According to a study conducted by PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI), improved and increased communication will be a critical aspect of your practice for the new year. Improved communication could ease patients’ worries and encourage them to seek care when they need it. The study found that:
- 53% of consumers reported they continue to worry about seeing their physician in person during the pandemic.
- Only 27% are receiving information from their provider about when it is safe to return to the practice for care.
- Nearly 50% of healthcare executives surveyed said their organization is investing in digital product support and educational tools such as mobile apps to improve the member experience.
One of the more important aspects of your DPC business planning for 2021 is taking advantage of technology and the need for interoperability. As the HRI researchers emphasize, “some organizations will emerge as the winners, by earning consumer trust, synthesizing the data and providing innovative products and services. For 2021, healthcare organizations need strategies to make sure they are not excluded.” The study found that only about 44% of provider and payer executives said their organizations are heading into 2021 having identified a leader to guide their interoperability efforts within the organization.
Business planning for 2021 will look a little different as the pandemic continues. Telehealth will continue to grow as patients remain concerned about their health and safety. Including financials, marketing strategies, technology, and communication plans in your 2021 business plan will help ensure your success into the new year.