Direct Primary Care (DPC) practices operate on the premise that the physician wants to be able to spend more time with patients and less time filling out paperwork or dealing with insurance companies. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) reports a “a number of reported outcomes of increasing visit time, including improved patient experience of care and improved clinical outcomes as patients become more engaged in managing their own health care.” Such patient-focused practices will benefit from the appropriate technology.
Direct care physicians actually tend to be heavy users of technology in their practices, due to the demands of retaining patient memberships. Practices need access to a wide-range of technology and services, from patient marketing platforms to labs and imaging services. Which technology is optimized for and best suited to meet the needs of direct care practices?
The electronic health record (EHR) is a critical first choice for any physician starting a direct care practice. This tool will be the main technology a physician engages with throughout their day. The EHR is used to keep workflows efficient and inform decisions at the point of care. Patient data is securely stored and easily accessible on an EHR as are other functions that can help the DPC provider manage his patients and his practice more efficiently.
Secondary tools that can integrate with an EHR include but are not limited to membership management platforms, data integration tools, in-office dispensing software and suppliers, specialty consultation software, financial tools, and communication platforms.
Communication is a significant attraction for patients and physicians alike in a DPC model. Patients enjoy the ability to send messages, ask questions, and receive additional instructions via electronic communication available to them around the clock. The physician also needs an effective tool for exchanging information with other providers when coordinating care for their patients. Technology can help the DPC practice in many areas, and can help the independent physician stay focused on quality patient care.