Direct Primary Care

How to Start a Direct Primary Care Practice?

May 26, 2021

Harsha Moole, M.D., MBBS

The direct primary care model has revolutionized American healthcare in recent years. The healthcare model like dpc works by patients paying membership or retainer fees to doctors.

In recent years, more and more doctors have switched to direct primary care models. This way, they get a stable income flow while providing a better quality of care to an exclusive set of patients.

In collaboration with the AAFP, the Society of Actuaries recently conducted a survey. The results of the survey were published in a May 2020 report, which found that most of these doctors practice direct primary care that does not bill as per traditional fee-for-service basis.

In addition, about 75 per cent have also already opted out of Medicare, and 5 per cent are opting out. 74% of doctors started to open their practices independently, 76% are the sole owner of their business, and 71% open their business after 2015.

Let us drill down deep into Direct Primary Care Practice.

Direct Primary Care Practice

What is a Direct Primary Care Practice?

Direct Primary Care practice is an alternative to the third-party fee-for-service that gives patients access to quality primary healthcare for a flat membership fee. It follows a payment model that is beneficial to both doctors and patients.

We were bitter, frustrated. We were in a failed profession. But, it was so bad that we had to take a risk. We knew that what patients want more than anything else is uninterrupted time with their PCP and build a level of confidence. They want relationship-centred care.- Dr. John Izbicki, who started his practice under the insurance-based model, was dissatisfied before converting it to DPC.

Under the DPC model, providers contact their patients directly, completely cutting out the insurance providers from the transaction. This allows providers to allocate the time spent on paperwork to determine the patient's underlying conditions more accurately.

Meanwhile, it also makes providers more accessible than what is possible with the insurance-based arrangement, one reason patients are switching to Direct Primary Care. Each doctor only sees a maximum of 300 to 800 patients instead of 2,000 to 3,000, so patients enjoy the enhanced focus of their providers.

DPC also enables extended appointments of 30 to 60 minutes, access to immediate appointment booking, and the option to use virtual communication with the provider.

So despite its higher costs at a cursory glance, patients still recognize DPC as a real alternative to its insurance-based counterpart because of the benefits and savings that exceptional health care provides.

How to Start a Direct Primary Care Practice?

Treat your practice like a business. Therefore, you will have to get these sorted to get started:

  • Office location: Whether you will buy, rent, or build an office, this will be the most time-consuming. Make sure to get this out of the way as soon as possible.
  • Website: If you do it on your own, look at other DPC websites for inspiration, but they should still be unique to you.
  • Determine your desired salary: This will determine how much you have to charge and how many patients you should have in your practice to reach your goal.
  • Contract: Have a DPC lawyer draft your contracts to avoid potential legal issues in the future.
  • Taxes: You can get an accountant or use software for this.

These are the most essential, but you may need to attend to other matters such as staffing and dispensary.

How to Open a Direct Primary Care Practice?

You will need to focus on client acquisition to open. Unfortunately, relying on foot traffic in your area alone may prove unsuccessful unless you have massive savings. That is why investing in local SEO is always a great idea.

Patients who are seeking providers are likely to use search engines for information. Therefore, your search engine ranking can be the difference between sustaining your practice or closing it up even before it takes off.

DPC Practice

How to Set Up a Direct Primary Care Practice?

Although Direct Primary Care practice is most popular for the non-affiliation of practitioners to insurance providers, you can set up your practice so that you still retain this affiliation.

Under the "pure" model, the provider dedicates their practice to patients who have paid their membership fee. Therefore, no person holding healthcare insurance can seek medical help.

But a hybrid practice will dedicate time for both. This means dividing your time between third-party fee-for-service and DPC patients.

Building a Direct Primary Care Practice

Building the trust of your potential clients is one of the most sustainable ways to building your practice. This means publishing relevant information on your website, addressing frequently asked questions, and making yourself available to inquiries.

Despite the necessity to perform or delegate marketing-related tasks to sustainably build your practice, doctors are generally more fulfilled with this alternative.

Having full control of the maximum number of patients you are willing to take allows you to go back to the fundamental reason for becoming a doctor: providing exceptional and patient-centred care. You also enjoy a better work-life balance, lower overhead costs, and better professional satisfaction.

As a Direct Primary Care doctor, you can also be more transparent. This gives you leverage over non-DPC counterparts because you can be more transparent with your pricing and membership fee inclusions.

Starting a Direct Primary Care Practice

If you have no reputation in your area of practice, defining your target market is the best way to start.

For example, you can target people who do not have insurance coverage, accounting for 27.5 million Americans. By targeting this market, you get a stable and reliable income source while also providing more affordable healthcare.

However, if you are converting your existing practice, you can retain your clients and gain new ones with early enrollment discounts. This allows you to limit recoup your overhead more quickly.

Do you want to start and thrive at your own Direct Primary Care practice? Then, list your practice for free and maximize your online reach, transforming health care shoppers into patients.

Authored by Harsha Moole, M.D., MBBS

Advocate of healthcare models that promote direct relationship between patients and doctors. Founder @ FindMyDirectDoctor, LLC.

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