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What makes DPC EHRs unique?


The ability to bill, code, and file for reimbursement is critical to the financial stability of an independent practice operating in a traditional fee-for-service or even a value-based model. However, for the direct primary care (DPC) provider, these tools are not necessary and not relevant to the practice’s success in delivering quality care in a sustainable manner. An electronic health record (EHR) system for direct primary care has to be unique to the DPC’s needs.

For a DPC practice, the focus is on membership, communication, and developing a meaningful patient-provider relationship. DPC EHRs must have the capability to support and encourage these aspects of the practice and more.

A DPC provider in Enid, Oklahoma, whose story was captured in a recent issue of Healthcare IT News, explains his journey to find an electronic health record system for direct primary care that fit his needs and the needs of his patients.

Dr. Jonathan Bushman is one of three providers at Reliant Direct Primary Care. Dr. Bushman worked for a health system before transitioning to the DPC practice and used an EHR there that was “designed to support fee-for-service billing and engineered around serving patients through a transactional delivery model.”

Recognizing that an EHR for a DPC must be unique to the membership model of care delivery, he determined that needed an EHR that “was easy to use and felt natural with his primary care workflow.” Dr. Bushman found his solution in Elation.

An electronic health record system for direct primary care, such as that offered by Elation, must provide the ability to:

  • Collect patient payments and set up recurring memberships
  • Manage clinical records, membership recurring payments, and patient relationships
  • Provide the ability for patients to connect with the DPC practice for questions, clarifications, scheduling, telehealth, and more.

Noting that communication with patients and with other providers is a critical aspect of the DPC practice, Dr. Bushman said of the Elation EHR, “Within the DPC model, the more I can add to communication and reminders for patients, the better. The EHR’s reporting tools allow me to basically create my own metrics, including both touch-points and accessibility.”

He added that, “With Elation, creating clinical documentation; keeping careful patient records; managing tasks, results and messages; and collaborating with other physicians are as easy as they need to be, and the visual experience is uncluttered with a sleek and simple design.”

Giving some advice to other DPC providers, based on his own experience, Dr. Bushman noted that they should look for “a platform that helps you manage your day-to-day work, gives you tools to proactively manage a panel or population of patients – not just one patient at a time – and doesn’t add to the cognitive burden of the hard work of patient care.”

What makes DPC EHRs unique is their ability to manage communications and memberships, rather than focusing on billing, coding, and reimbursement. Collaboration with specialty providers and laboratories, e-prescribing capabilities, and viewing patient data in an efficient and easily accessible manner are also important features. 

As Dr. Bushman shared, “There should be easy, effective and efficient integrations with laboratories for orders and results. It should be easy to manage the patient relationship through secure communications and refer patients outside your practice, sharing pertinent information between collaborators in a patient’s care journey.”