A Direct Primary Care (DPC) practice operates on patient membership fees primarily. Most DPCs do not accept insurance. Given their unique structure, it is important for a successful DPC practice to be optimized so that it operates as efficiently as possible.
The patient panel is key to a DPC’s operations. In the DPC model, patients pay a monthly membership fee and receive basic services without additional cost. To manage a DPC practice efficiently, the independent physician must balance those fees, which are essentially the only income for the practice, with the costs of providing care and managing the practice.
As your DPC develops a larger patient panel, you will have more income of course. However, with the enlarged panel comes additional expenses related to practice management. Making the DPC practice more efficient means you will be able to more fully focus on your patients and enjoy a successful practice, financially.
Dr. Rob Lamberts, writing in KevinMD, states that the “DPC relies on the simplicity of the care model to give enough efficiency to keep overhead low, cost to patients down, and to allow for larger patient panels.” The DPC model is relatively simple, allowing the independent physician to run a practice with minimal staff and overhead costs.
Technology can be a significant factor in the efficiency of the DPC practice. Using tools such as electronic health records (EHRs), physicians can streamline and optimize current workflows to allow for greater efficiency and consequently, a larger panel of patients. EHRs enable independent physicians to manage their patients’ medical data efficiently, accessing the information they need quickly and easily.
Managing a DPC practice efficiently involves:
- Delivering a great patient experience so the practice retains those patients and the patients spread their positive experience with other potential patients
- Finding a care-focused EHR solution to manage patient data, collaborate with specialty providers, and communicate with patients
- Thinking strategically about growth so that the patient panel does not increase too quickly for the business to continue to be financially healthy.