Direct primary care (DPC) operates on a unique financial model. Rather than submitting claims and relying on insurance reimbursements, the DPC physician bills patients for a monthly membership fee. These transactions require a different type of practice management system than that used by the traditional primary care practice.
The DPC practice “offer 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 that is typically billed to patients on a monthly basis.” This arrangement enables the DPC physician to spend more time with each patient, particularly when the practice incorporates the technology of electronic health records (EHRs).
DPC practices that rely on patient membership fees must be able to manage the practice efficiently to remain financially solvent. DPC EHRs must offer the independent physician the tools necessary to bill patients for their monthly fee as well as to communicate with patients regarding questions and clarifications for follow-up treatments.
Minimizing practice overhead is critical for DPCs. Important features of EHRs for these practices include integrated practice management tools to efficiently manage office appointments, send patient reminders, and collaborate on care with electronic faxing and referrals.
A primary focus of the DPC practice is to become more engaged with patients, spending more time with them at each visit and developing a positive, long-term relationship with each. DPC physicians also encourage patients to become more engaged in their own healthcare. An appropriate EHR solution can also help with that goal.
DPC EHRs, such as Elation’s Clinical First EHR, provide the ability to send and receive messages with patients to engage them beyond the encounter. Communication histories are automatically linked to the patient’s chart and are easy to find. The physician can securely share vitals, lab results, and encounter summaries through the HIPAA-compliant patient portal.
An effective EHR solution provides easy access to patient data and to practice management tools that are essential for the DPC’s success. Elation Health is focused on helping DPC physicians reach their goals, for their practice and for their patients.