Direct Primary Care Summit Shares Strategies for Making the DPC Model Flourish

By Erik Leander

Hosted at the Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo., the 2016 Direct Primary Care Summit convened from July 8 – 10 to bring together seasoned DPC practitioners and those physicians interested in transitioning from traditional practice to the more patient-centered DPC model. The weekend event featured 13 educational sessions and ample networking opportunities.

Direct primary care is an alternative payment model that allows greater focus on the physician-patient relationship. Rather than the traditional fee-for-service, insurance-billing model where physicians are reimbursed for the volume of services provided and number of patients treated, patients pay a monthly, quarterly or annual retainer fee that covers all – or most – primary care services, including clinical, laboratory and consultative aspects. Because DPC physicians charge a retainer fee rather than accepting reimbursement payments, they avoid the time consuming, complex and costly overhead associated with maintaining relationships with health insurers.

The DPC model offers physicians the benefit of lowering their practice overhead, reducing their patient volume, eliminating insurance billing and increasing the amount of time spent with individual patients. These benefits are also known to lower the liability risk profile for the physicians who practice direct patient care.

“Because direct-patient-care physicians carry a lower patient volume than a traditional doctor does, they’re able to spend more time with each individual patient,” said Duane Peacock, a Cunningham Group account executive, who attended the Direct Primary Care Summit to showcase the agency’s discounted medical malpractice insurance program for direct-patient-care physicians and their staff. “Studies have shown that the more time a doctor spends with a patient, the more satisfied the patient is; the better the health outcome is. These equate to a lower risk profile, so why shouldn’t these DPC physicians get preferential malpractice insurance rates? We think they should. That’s why Cunningham Group created our discounted Direct Patient Care Program for medical malpractice insurance.”

The Cunningham Group Direct Primary Care Medical Malpractice Insurance Program offers DPC physicians and their practice an average of 40 percent off their medical malpractice premiums with a national, financially strong “A”-rated medical malpractice insurer. The program is available in claims-made and occurrence coverage and offers custom-created risk management courses.

Highlights from the 2016 Direct Primary Care Summit include:

• In a session titled “Avoiding Financial Failure – Business Planning for Startup DPC Clinics,” presenter Joseph Shepherd, DO, who operates a DPC clinic in Neosho, Mo., shared the process for establishing and launching a DPC practice, the key aspects of a successful DPC business plan and how to evaluate the use of financial planning concepts to make sound decisions in managing business finances. Shepherd stressed that proper financial planning is the most critical aspect to a successful DPC practice.

• During a session titled “Thinking Differently: Why It Matters,” Julie Gunther, MD, and Laurence Bauer, MSW, MEd, summarized the rise and growth of the direct-primary-care model, shared why their primary care peers and colleagues transformed their practice into a DPC setting, examined the common conceptual concerns that primary care physicians have about the DPC model and looked at the potential impact the DPC model could have in fostering a renewed interest in primary care among future physicians and physicians in training.

• In a session titled “Improving Patient Communications in a Safe and Sane Manner,” W. Ryan Neuhofel, DO, MPH, founder of NeuCare, a direct-primary-care family medicine practice in Lawrence, Kan., reviewed the pros and cons of various methods of patient communication, how to apply best practices when setting rules and boundaries with patients, discussed what is permissible under HIPAA and safeguards to stay compliant and shared how new technologies can improve patient care and communication.

• During a session titled “Federal and State Legislative Update,” Philip Eskew, DO, JD, MBA, and Jay Keese, executive director of the Direct Primary Care Coalition, reviewed recent federal and statewide legislative trends concerning the DPC model, evaluated the major regulatory hurdles facing new DPC practices, shared how to develop and implement appropriate compliance and mitigation strategies to minimize regulatory risks as well as how to evaluate the existing resources and support infrastructure available to physicians interested in becoming engaged with DPC advocacy efforts.

• In a session titled “The Business of Your Brand: Creating an Identity for Your Practice,” product and digital marketing strategist Cameron Baraban discussed the key issues in building and maintaining a business brand and brand equity; how to develop an understanding of key marketing issues, critically evaluate strategic options and understand marketing’s role in brand and strategy decision-making; how to evaluate the various marketing programs used by successful DPC practices, including marketing efforts in traditional media, social media and new media outlets; and how to determine what type of marketing will be most relevant to a patient community.

Comments (1)

Victoria Addington

Thank you for explaining that direct primary care is another kind of payment model that permits greater priority on the physician-patient relationship. My friend, who is a doctor, needs to hear this. I’ll share this article with her so she can consider a direct primary care network.


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