Whether you are considering a transition to the direct primary care (DPC) model for an existing practice or the launch of a new practice, understanding the many considerations involved in pediatrics and direct primary care can be helpful. You may have a family practice and want to include the care of younger patients, or you may intend to focus solely on pediatrics. The DPC model has shown proven benefits for you and your patients, regardless of their age.
One of the first considerations for pediatrics and direct primary care is how you will charge for your services. The DPC model is supported by patient membership fees, typically paid on a monthly basis. You can structure your fees according to your patient’s age and family situation. For example, some DPC providers offer a family fee that includes a certain number of immediate family members. Others, particularly those specializing in pediatrics, offer a lower fee for younger patients.
Given that the membership fee is your primary source of revenue in a DPC practice, you may need to consider whether you will see patients younger than five years old, who typically require immunizations that may add to your cost of providing those important preventive services. Another option is to offer the medicine to your patients at cost, which would be an additional expenditure for the parents.
One significant benefit of a DPC pediatric practice is the time you are able to spend with each patient, which can be particularly important for patients in their teens. Many pediatricians practicing in traditional model practices spend very little or no time discussing issues of concern to teenagers, including such concerns as sexual health, nutrition, and driving safety. The DPC structure, with a much smaller patient panel, gives the pediatrician more time with each patient to discuss these critical issues.
In addition, younger children and their parents appreciate the fact that there typically is not a long wait to see the provider, which makes visiting the doctor less of a chore for all concerned. Parents also are comforted by the fact that they can use technology to reach out to their DPC provider, even after hours, for a health concern or question.
Elation Health offers you a streamlined solution for your DPC pediatric practice operations and patient experience, so you can focus on delivering meaningful care and developing those all-important patient relationships. Learn more here.
Direct primary care access for pediatric patients is also a major factor in the ability to reduce emergency department visits for children and teens. A recent study found parents who were able to communicate with their DPC healthcare provider after hours were less likely to consider taking a child to the emergency department for a condition or injury that did not require a trip to the hospital.
The research found that 17% of children in the US had visited the emergency department at least once. Fewer than 5% of those visits resulted in admission to the hospital. When parents were asked why they took their child to the emergency department, 28.4% said it was because their “clinic/physician office was closed or had no appointments available.”
The study concluded that there is a strong correlation between the availability of the DPC pediatric provider and the decreased likelihood in the young patient being taken to the hospital for a preventable emergency department visit.
Direct primary care typically gives pediatric patients and their parents 24/7 access to their provider, as well as the more personalized, individual care that is so important to younger patients as well as teenagers. The DPC model can enhance the provider-patient relationship and provide higher quality preventive care for patients of all ages and is particularly beneficial in the practice of pediatrics.