The Direct Primary Care (DPC) model is growing in popularity with independent physicians. The DPC practice operates primarily on patient membership fees rather than depending on co-pays or insurance reimbursements. Physicians and patients find the arrangement enables them to enjoy a higher quality of care. DPC physicians generally have fewer administrative duties and fewer patients, giving them more time to spend with their patients.
DPCs first started appearing in the late 1990s. By 2016, there were approximately 345 DPC practices in the United States, an increase of 45 over the previous year. Independent physicians are attracted to the financial structure, as they actually incur fewer overhead expenses in the management of their practice. However, the structure also poses some challenges in being able to optimize the practice.
Elation’s Direct Care Playbook is written specifically for DPC physicians, to guide them through the many considerations involved in establishing and growing a DPC practice. Running the business side of the practice effectively and efficiently is crucial for a DPC physician to ensure that the practice continues to grow and thrive.
The first essential step to optimizing a DPC practice is to set goals and determine success metrics. Even though the basics of the DPC model are relatively simplistic, there are many considerations involved in ensuring that the practice is able to remain financially stable while maintaining a manageable patient panel. Specific metrics and performance indicators to keep track of and build goals for include:
- Average patient encounter time
- Number of patients in panel
- Number of patient visits
- Patient wait times
- Average time to an appointment
- Number of hospital readmissions per patient
Tracking progress in relation to these specific and measurable goals is important in optimizing the practice. The DPC physician should analyze the practice’s performance on a regular basis to determine what is working and what needs to be revised.
Effective strategies for optimizing a DPC practice include:
- Delivering a great patient experience
- Utilizing the care-focused tools within the electronic health record (EHR) system
- Developing and maintaining a profitable and efficient practice that benefits the physician as well as the patients.