AAFP: How will transforming into a DPC practice affect my patients?


direct primary care journal2JANUARY 15, 2014 – The core result of the DPC practice model is that physicians and patients have the opportunity to spend more time interacting. The consequence of spending more time with each patient, however, is that family physicians practicing in a DPC setting typically have much smaller patient panels than they would in the traditional FFS system. Generally, DPC physicians have a panel of between 600 and 800 patients. In typical FFS settings, the patient panels tend to range from between 2,000 and 2,500 per family physician. This often results in patients losing access to their personal physicians if they elect to not participate in the DPC contract or if their physicians cannot take on new DPC contract patients. Patients who do receive personal care in the DPC practice will find their primary care services significantly altered when compared with care received in traditional practice settings (e.g, increased time spent with their family physicians). There are 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.
DPC patients will also find it much easier to access their physicians and the DPC practice offices. This facilitates care that is timely and convenient. A number of DPC practices offer non-face-to-face visit options, such as e-visits, to empower patients to access care in a manner that best fits their needs. Additionally, many DPC practices also have expanded their operating hours while opening scheduling for same-day visits. Finally, some DPC practices provide patients a means to contact their physicians, or an on-call physician from the practice, 24 hours a day.

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