Posted by: Atlas MD

August 30, 2021

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Approaching Employers About DPC

Transitioning to direct care or starting a new DPC practice can sometimes feel like a daunting task, especially when it comes to acquiring new patients. In a previous blog post, we looked at different ways to attract new patients, including sourcing from your panel if you already worked at a clinic and marketing your clinic digitally if you didn’t. We also briefly looked at pitching to employer groups as a way of filling up your appointment book, and it’s this approach that we’re going to examine in more detail below.

Approaching and partnering with employers in your community can be a mutually beneficial way of providing affordable healthcare for a business group while simultaneously acquiring hundreds of new patients. 

But where are these employers? How do you engage with them, and how do you finalize a contract? Below we take a look at what information you need to know and how you should approach employers in order to demonstrate the benefits and value that DPC provides.

Self-Funded or Fully-Insured

An important factor for determining which employer to approach is knowing whether their health insurance program is self-funded or fully insured.  

Employers that are fully insured contract directly with health insurance companies. They provide their employees with fixed plans that are administered and funded by the insurance company in question. This insulates the company from the expensive healthcare claims of their employees, but it also means they won’t see any savings should their employees not claim anything at all. Because of this, fully insured employers aren’t directly impacted by the monetary savings that direct care provides. Switching their employer healthcare plans to a DPC model would simply save money for the insurance company, which would be burdened with fewer claims.

Self-funded or self-insured companies, on the other hand, pay for most or all of the cost of their employee’s health care. Without third-party insurance, these companies evaluate and pay for the healthcare claims of their employees as they occur, relying on a third-party administrator (TPA) to perform the administrative functions. Each claim comes out of the company’s operating budget, directly affecting its bottom line. Because of this, self-funded companies stand to save a lot of money by switching to a DPC-oriented healthcare model, not only in medical savings but also in lowered employee absenteeism and improved productivity.

As a DPC practitioner, you’re going to have a much easier time engaging with self-funded employers than fully insured ones, for the simple reason that you have a lot more financial value to offer them.

Finding Self-Funded Employers

Now that you’re aware that engaging with self-funded employers is the best course of action for partnering with a company, the next question that arises is: how do I find and contact them?

One of the main predictors of whether or not a company self-funds its healthcare is size. In general, these companies will have more than 200 employees. According to a 2011 study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly 50% of businesses with more than 200 but less than 1000 employees were self-funded. Of course, this isn’t an absolute rule, but it does give you some general parameters to work with when deciding which companies to approach.

Approaching business leaders within the local community is also a proven method for finding and engaging with self-funded employers. Since DPC is by definition a local enterprise, it makes sense that direct care practices should want to collaborate with local businesses. 

Community business leaders can frequently be found at a city club or chapters of national service clubs like the Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce. Referral groups like BNI (Business Network International) are also worth pursuing. This type of professional networking is invaluable as it allows you to shake the hands of people running businesses in your community and really demonstrate the value of DPC.

Demonstrating the Value That DPC Provides

As a DPC practitioner, you’re well-aware of the value direct care can bring to the table both in monetary savings and improved patient healthcare. Most employers, however, are in the dark, so it’s up to you to show them what they stand to gain by providing direct primary care to their employees. 

Before pitching a DPC healthcare plan to an employer, it’s important to understand their healthcare needs so that you can adjust your value proposition accordingly. These healthcare needs are generally oriented around three elements:

  • Lowering health care costs
  • Increasing the health of their workforce
  • Providing additional benefits to employees

The first is a no-brainer. With no copay, low monthly fees, and the ability to see patients as frequently as needed at no additional cost, it’s easy to lay bare how DPC can save an employer significant amounts of money. You can also present the following facts to strengthen your case. Companies will:

  • Save significantly on lab testing, imaging, outpatient surgeries, and other non-emergency treatments
  • See a reduction in unnecessary lab testing, imaging, and procedures
  • Provide their employees with affordable specialist consultations
  • Save on average $2,551 savings per employee per year, as found in the 2012 AJMC study on preventative care and reduced hospitalization

In terms of increasing the health of an employer’s workforce, put an emphasis on preventative care and improved health outcomes that ultimately result in fewer sick workers and missed workdays, and a healthy, productive workforce.

And lastly, lay out what employees stand to gain:

  • Greater doctor and clinic accessibility
  • Patients have more time with the doctor
  • Same-day appointments
  • Remote consultations

Understanding marketing and how to reach out to potential patients is part of the job of running a DPC clinic. Luckily, direct care almost sells itself with the value and savings that it provides. All you have to do is get in front of the right employers, lay out the facts and case studies, and show them how much they have to gain.

Posted by: Atlas MD

August 3, 2021

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What’s New in Atlas.md? Atlas Consult.

Atlas.md has always allowed you to consult specialists through third-party app integration. But now, we’ve developed Atlas Consult to give you more consulting options, and allow you to build your own preferred lists of specialists and contact them directly through the EMR interface.

What is Atlas Consult?

Atlas Consult connects primary care providers to specialists for remote medical opinions. It allows you to reach out to specialists, add them into a central database, and contact them whenever you have a query. It’s designed to save time by eliminating the need for in-person consultations and the costs associated with it. All cases are handled remotely, directly in Atlas.md – even the billing.

The point of Atlas Consult is not only to provide patients with even better care but also to give you peace of mind knowing that your diagnosis is propped up by a second opinion. It’s just another way that we’re helping you move forward with confidence to give the best care possible.

You can read more about requesting feedback from a specialist in this help article. For any other questions regarding Atlas Consult, please don’t hesitate to contact us at support@atlas.md.

Posted by: Atlas MD

July 16, 2021

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Direct Care and COVID-19

It’s no secret that the outbreak of COVID-19 caused massive disruption to healthcare systems around the world. Not only were hospitals overwhelmed, but with stay-at-home orders in place, many office-based doctors struggled to keep their doors open. Those same doctors scrambled to adapt their practices to the digital demands ushered in by the pandemic. Suddenly, telemedicine and virtual visits became the norm as a way of seeing patients and offsetting the sharp decline in office-based appointments.

Perfectly Poised for a Pandemic

For many, it was a disaster. But for direct primary care physicians, it was business as usual. Unlike most primary care practices in the fee-for-service arena, most DPC practices were already set up to provide virtual office visits through telephone and video consultations, and quick check-ups via text and email. Since patients pay for services through a monthly membership, there was no need for DPC doctors to worry about how to code and bill for these non-office visit services.

Not only was this ideal for keeping patients up-to-date with necessary health information, but it allowed DPC doctors to reassure their patients during an understandably difficult period. Having the infrastructure and protocols in place to communicate directly with patients was also a godsend for disseminating factual health information during a time when misinformation was being spread from all sides. As Paul Thomas from Plum Health DPC stated on LaternDPC’s blog post, “As primary care physicians, we are uniquely equipped with not only the knowledge to educate our patients about the coronavirus, but we also have the tools to spread excellent information at our fingertips.” 

Direct Care in a Post-Pandemic World

While office-based appointments have rebounded as vaccination rates increase and restrictions ease, many doctors have come to understand the pandemic-proof potential of direct care, which, in a lot of ways, is insulated from the economic uncertainty experienced by fee-for-service doctors throughout 2020. And while patient volume is on the increase in primary care, some believe that patients will continue to avoid non-essential in-office visits for some time.

Where does this position the direct care industry as the world learns how to live with the pandemic and progresses onward into 2021? In short – things are looking good. While hospitals in the U.S. could lose between $53 and $122 billion this year, DPC practices have actually reported a significant increase in patients and revenues. A good example of this is the Texan clinic, Vida Family Medicine. According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, patient inquires doubled even during the worst of the pandemic.

This is unsurprising for two reasons. The first being that many out-of-work Americans who no longer have employer-sponsored healthcare would be looking for more affordable healthcare solutions. And secondly, should another lockdown occur, patients will have readily available access to their doctor regardless of whether or not clinic doors are open.

Financial Stability

From a physician’s perspective, the financial stability offered by direct care should another lockdown occur is undeniably attractive. With lower overheads and fewer employees than a traditional physician, an uninterrupted stream of income in the form of monthly membership fees, and the ability to continue working regardless of stay-at-home orders, the number of doctors transitioning to direct care in the wake of the pandemic is steadily on the rise. Given the benefits to both patients and physicians, it’s unlikely that this trend is going to stagnate or reverse anytime soon.

Posted by: Atlas MD

July 13, 2021

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What’s New in Atlas.md? Shipping Prescriptions

We’re excited to announce an update we’ve been working on to help streamline prescription workflows and improve your EMR experience. Shipping Prescriptions is a feature that lets you more easily order and manage shipments for specific prescriptions.

This feature simplifies the process of sending and shipping prescriptions and refills from your local inventory. It also gives you more oversight and control of the history of both the shipment and the prescription once the medication has been shipped.

For more information on shipping medications, check out this article. And if you have any questions regarding Shipping Prescriptions or anything else, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line at support@atlas.md.

Posted by: Atlas MD

June 29, 2021

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The First 100: How To Get Patients Through the Door of Your New DPC

Starting a new practice or converting your current operation to a DPC clinic can be both simultaneously exciting and terrifying. On the one hand, making the jump to direct care provides you with the autonomy to build the clinic you want and really connect with patients. On the other, there can be a lot of uncertainty when it comes to successfully growing your clinic into a thriving business and building up a dedicated panel.  

Whether you’re converting to DPC from an existing clinic or you’re starting from scratch, understanding how to acquire new patients is crucial for your clinic’s success. To help you get over that hurdle and get the first 100 patients through your door, we’re going to take a look at a few strategies that every new clinic should be exploring.

Transitioning From an Existing Clinic

If you’ve decided to make the jump to DPC by converting your existing practice then your current list of patients is going to be one of the very best sources to recruit new patients from. Rather than struggling to attract new patients from the outset, this method allows you to build a reliable client base while also maintaining the relationships you’ve already established.

There are a number of incentives that you can extend to existing patients who stay with you through the transition:

  • Offer discounts to patients who enroll early. 
  • Demonstrate to patients in a practical way the money they will save by signing up your DPC clinic.
  • Speak to them personally about the benefits of DPC and explain in detail how you will be able to spend more time with them and provide better care. 

Transitioning From an Existing Employer

If you’re leaving an established employer to start a DPC clinic, this is an excellent opportunity to bring some of your patients with you. Since many patients value the relationship they have with their physician, they’re quite likely to accompany you on your direct care journey. This can be a big advantage when starting a new clinic, but just make sure that you’re not breaching any sort of contractual clause by inviting your patients to move with you. 

If there are no bureaucratic hurdles or clashes of interest, then follow the same advice as to the point above. Pitch DPC to your patients, offer them discounts and show them how much they have to gain by signing up. 

If you’re unsure whether or not you’re in breach of a contract, get in touch with Atlas.md’s free lawyer, Keen Umbehr Sr, at keen@atlas.md and he will help clear up any uncertainties. 

Starting from Scratch

If you’re starting a DPC clinic from the ground up then you’re going to have to get a bit more inventive with your methods for attracting patients. 

Connect With Your Community

Since direct care is an inherently local venture, then connecting with your local community is an obvious path to building up a dedicated panel. But for patients to abandon their current medical arrangement and sign up with your clinic, they will have to know and trust you. Which begs the question, how do you make yourself known, and how do you get people to trust you?

Attending local town meetings and canvasing town halls is one option. Take advantage of anywhere that offers you a platform and a chance to speak to local residents to share details about your clinic and how it can help the community. Show yourself – let people see your face that understand you’re here to offer a helpful service.

Consider joining business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, your local BNI chapter, or any other small business association in your town and discussing the benefits of DPC with its members.

Remember – nothing scales like community.

Build Your Brand

Branding is something that doctors may not be familiar or comfortable with, but it’s important when it comes to building authority, trust, and recognition with prospective patients. Successful branding will make you and your clinic recognizable, memorable and help you stand out among the ranks of the numerous other healthcare services on the market.

A well-defined brand will not only allow you to attract new patients but also practice partners and media attention (which in turn will lead to more new patients). It communicates who you are, your mission, vision, and values, and allows you to connect with people across a number of different mediums, which is important for our next point:

Market Your Clinic Digitally and Traditionally

When you’re starting fresh, no one knows that you exist, so getting the word out about what you do, where you are, and how you can help is crucial. Some doctors struggle to get 10 or 20 new patients per month, but with the right marketing resources and strategies, you can far surpass that number.

Clinic Website

Your website is the first point of contact for many prospective patients; it’s the front door of your business in a digital age. If you haven’t already, set up a professional website that clearly details your services and the value you offer, answers all potential questions, eliminates hesitation, and encourages potential patients to enroll in your practice. Include an option where patients can sign up directly, and integrate a live chat so that you can communicate with visitors in real-time. It’s important to make the process as seamless as possible; slow, complicated websites lose visitors.

Social Media and Content Marketing

Social media and content marketing are two invaluable methods of marketing your clinic and connecting with patients directly. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube can all be used to create engaging content, build a large audience and funnel traffic back to your website. If the content is valuable, informative, and resonates with the audience you’re targeting, they’ll share it with their followings and help generate awareness of your practice.

A good example of a successful doctor using this strategy is Dr. Paul Thomas from Plum Health DPC. He maintains a blog, YouTube channel, podcast, and various social media accounts that contain a wealth of content describing his experience with direct care. His content is routinely shared by both patients and doctors, which in turn has increased his reach, authority, and the power of his brand. 

Legacy Media

Legacy media consists of traditional outlets such as television and radio shows, local newspapers, and magazines. The audiences of these mediums are large and local and have the potential for massive engagement. Reach out to local editors, anchors, and radio shows with a well-written proposition about your clinic, why it’s different, what it offers and how it can help individuals in the community.  Accept any offers for interviews or features that will help spread the word about your clinic.

Pitch to Employer Groups

Large employer groups present a significant opportunity for acquiring a large number of patients quickly. Applicable large employers (ALEs) are required under the Affordable Care Act to provide full-time workers with minimum essential coverage that meets affordability and minimum value thresholds. While companies generally aren’t allowed to use DPC in lieu of ACA-compliant coverage, they can offer their employees direct care alongside cheaper, high-deductible health plans, ultimately saving them massive amounts of money in the long term.

When pitching your clinic to employers, explain the benefits that they will receive when signing up their employees to your clinic. Demonstrate in a practical way the money they will save and the benefits their employees will enjoy when it comes to unlimited doctor visits, wholesale medicine, less time off work, and no copays. If successful, your pitch has the potential to get you halfway to capacity.

You can also use a third-party broker to make contact with larger employers. Atlas.md, for example, makes use of David Powell & Associates. You can get in touch with David Powell at papadjp1946@gmail.com and see how he can help you get a foot in the door with employer groups.

Posted by: Atlas MD

May 3, 2021

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A Moment to Say Thank You

It’s been a strange year, and, for many of us, one of the hardest in known memory. We’ve had to sacrifice in every possible domain of our lives – our work, our freedoms, and our health.

But perhaps no one has had to sacrifice more than the healthcare workers who, when called upon to keep us safe, rose unflinchingly to the challenge. While many stayed inside doing their part to halt the spread of the virus, those working in healthcare were in the labs, in the hospitals, and on every healthcare frontline working tirelessly and fearlessly to protect everyone. It’s because of them, and you, that we can see a light at the end of the tunnel, that we have managed the miracle of developing an effective vaccine in an impossible timeframe, and that we will find a way back to normal.

When we made Atlas.md, we wanted to help doctors connect with patients in order to provide higher quality care – and more of it. But we never imagined just how essential this tool would become, and how effectively it would be wielded by our doctors to help others in a time of crisis.

There is no update today. We just wanted to say that we see you – everything you’ve achieved, and everything you’ve sacrificed – and to say thank you for everything you’ve done. Who knows what the world would be without you.

Posted by: Atlas MD

April 21, 2021

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What’s New in Atlas.md? Import Lab Results.

We take feedback from our doctors seriously and are always working to implement features that will make using Atlas.md a better, easier, and more productive experience. Our latest update, the Import Lab Results feature, is a direct result of this feedback.

This feature allows you to move test results from labs directly into Atlas.md as discrete data. Instead of only being able to view test results as a static PDF, this information can now be viewed as tabular data, allowing for way more flexibility when it comes to compiling and tracking results.

Observation History

The Import Lab Results feature also allows you to compile multiple different iterations of the same test and view the concurrent results all on the same page. Using LOINC codes provided by the lab companies during the result reporting process, you can review and track these results over time. This is especially helpful for identifying trends and saves massive amounts of time by being able to view all results simultaneously.

Exporting Results

You can also export this data as a .CSV file. So if you’d like to view the data in an Excel or Google spreadsheet, manipulate it further, or send it off to a patient or colleague, you can do so easily from the results page.

Note: At the moment the Import Lab Results feature is only available for lab results from Quest Diagnostics.

For more information about requesting labs, check out this article, and if you’re unsure about how to enable labs from Quest Diagnostics, you can find out more here. And lastly, if you have any questions regarding the Import Lab Results feature or anything else, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line at support@atlas.md.

Posted by: Atlas MD

February 16, 2021

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What’s New in Atlas? Multiple Chart Attachments

Before now, when adding attachments to a patient’s chart, you were only been able to add one single file at a time. We’ve updated this feature to allow multiple attachments in different formats to be uploaded simultaneously. This means you’ll now be able to compile files and images from different sources, helping you to better organize information and attachments within a patient’s chart. We’re confident that this feature will save you time and help you work more efficiently.

If you have any questions regarding multiple chart attachments, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at support@atlas.md.

Posted by: Atlas MD

November 10, 2020

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What’s New in Atlas? Form Invitations, ICD-10 Search, QR Refill Improvements, and More.

While the days continue to chill we’re happy to announce a few new features – and the improvement of some existing ones – that we’ve been working on during the fall. These enhancements go a long way to improving Atlas.md’s functionality, helping you save time and provide even better healthcare.

Form Invitations

Having patients manually fill out forms is time-consuming for all parties involved. To help users gather data more quickly and effectively, we recently introduced Form Invitations, a feature that allows doctors to email forms directly to patients within Atlas.md. Time that would otherwise be spent manually inputting data can now be directed towards patients.

ICD-10 Search and Improvements

We introduced an ICD-10 Search to help users find ICD references more simply in the app. Since its inception, we’ve made some improvements so that users can now perform multiple searches simultaneously and export ICD data in an Excel-friendly format.

We also upgraded to ICD-10-CM 2021 to, among other things, accommodate for the new Covid-19 and vaping-related disorders codes. It’s now easy to tag and search for Covid and other related ICD cases.

Improvements to QR Refills

Since launching QR Refills we’ve made several important tweaks. When requesting a refill, patients can now add comments and provide information to the doctor handling the refill. Doctors can now also give patients the option of determining how they would like to receive their refill. This means fewer calls, less admin, and more thorough communication.

Improvements to Growth Charts

Finally, we have continued to improve on Growth Charts in a number of ways. Whereas previously visual charts were only provided for CDC charts, the feature now also provides full visual growth chart support for WHO charts.

We also added full support for both the imperial and metric systems of growth charts, respecting the account-level setting for units. Now you can view growth charts metrics in whatever way works best for you.

Lastly, we added a #growth macro that allows users to include a quick text-based representation of the most recent growth data of the patient. This is especially useful when adding text notes and reports to a patient’s chart.

Get in Touch

We hope these changes and additions are improving your experience. If you have any suggestions or questions you’d like answered, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at support@atlas.md.

Posted by: Atlas MD

June 3, 2020

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What’s New in Atlas? QR Refills

At Atlas, we’re always looking for ways to streamline the prescription process and make getting necessary medicine to patients as easy as possible. With our new QR Refill feature, we’re putting the convenience of remote refill requests into the hands of patients and providing doctors with more choice on how they want to handle refills.

Precision Prescribing

One of the main benefits of running an in-house pharmacy is being able to dispense the exact amount of medication that a patient requires. This reduces the risk of both overprescription and general waste. Once a patient runs out of medication, however, acquiring a refill becomes a bit tricky.

Typically the patient would have to call a clinic and speak to a doctor or physically visit the clinic in order to request a refill. In some cases, the clinic in question might reach out to the patient before their medication runs out. Both scenarios are time-consuming.

Rapid Refills

With the new QR Refill feature, doctors now have the option of including a QR code on prescription labels and medication bottles. Once a patient’s medication runs out, they can request a refill simply by scanning the QR code with their smartphone.

Once the QR code of a label has been scanned, the doctor who dispensed the medication will receive a notification asking them to approve or dismiss the prescription refill request. This eliminates the need for patient calls and visits with regards to prescription refills, saving massive amounts of time for both doctors and patients.

Activation Required

As a precaution against disrupting our users’ current dispensing and refill processes, QR Refills are disabled for existing Altas.md accounts, so you’ll have to enable the feature before you and your patients can start using it. All Atlas.md accounts registered after the rollout of this feature, however, will have the feature enabled by default. Check out our help article for information about enabling QR Refills.

If you have any questions regarding QR Refills, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at support@atlas.md.