The idea of a monthly membership fee for patients is growing. Rather than charging for each patient encounter, membership-based practices cover most basic services as part of the monthly fee. The number of independent practices participating in this relatively new financial model is growing. Today, there are many different types of membership-based practices.
Direct primary care (DPC)
An innovative alternative payment model that emphasizes patient-provider relationships and more personal, targeted care, DPC offers improved access to healthcare with a flat, usually very affordable fee. Most DPC practices do not accept insurance payments, so they do not have to worry about administrative issues such as billing and coding.
In the DPC model, patients are encouraged to communicate with their provider outside of the office visit, optimized through direct primary care software and further improving their opportunity to clarify diagnoses and post-visit instructions and to become more engaged in their own care. Membership fees differ depending on the practice and the patient. For example, some practices may offer family or senior discounts. Fees can be as little as $70/month, covering most basic, preventive services.
The DPC membership-based practice model has been shown to deliver:
- Better health outcomes
- Lower costs
- Enhanced patient experiences
The right direct primary care software can make the difference in your membership-based practice. Elation’s all-in-one solution powers your practice with a seamless clinical-first EHR, billing, and payment solution.
Similar to the DPC model, concierge practices offer a range of services for one monthly fee. However, the concierge fee is typically higher and the services and access are usually enhanced with concierge care. Concierge is often referred to as boutique medicine and is more exclusive than DPC care. Convenience is one of the major features of the concierge model of membership-based practices. The fee covers an unlimited number of office and telehealth visits and can even include “house calls” as needed. Concierge providers usually have a very small patient panel and spend more time with each patient.
The hybrid model of membership-based practices is often the model of choice for physicians transitioning from the traditional model to a DPC practice. While the DPC model typically does not accept third-party payments, a hybrid model may dedicate a portion of the practice to retain those patients that prefer to use their insurance in the traditional model practice. The hybrid model can help retain patients while the provider is transitioning to a pure DPC structure. It can also aid the practice financially as new DPC patients come onboard and begin supporting the practice with their membership fees.
On-site/Off-site employer practices
Membership-based practices are also found in employer healthcare offerings. On-site and off-site employer clinics that use the DPC model are growing in number as employers are discovering the cost and health benefits of this type of care delivery. A recent survey conducted by Hint Health, an Elation integration partner, found that out of 1,000 survey respondents:
- 68% were initially unfamiliar with the DPC model.
- When told it would lower costs and improve outcomes, 83% expressed interest in signing up if their employer offered DPC.
- 63% of private healthcare respondents ranked cost as their least favorable aspect of their current healthcare option.
The survey determined that DPC is gaining traction among employers as well as employees.