Posted by: AtlasMD

May 8, 2017

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Practice From a Place of Joy.

If you look back on your time as a healthcare professional, can you pinpoint your most inspired moments? The times when you were on fire? You know, like that time you came up with a super unconventional treatment plan that worked really well. Or when you figured out how to get alternative treatment for a patient who seriously needed help but couldn’t swing it because of insurance restrictions. Or how about that time you listened to the nagging in the back of your mind, “randomly” called your patient to check in and learned they were in the middle of a medical crisis? You really saved the day that time.

Chances are you’ll recognize a common thread in all those moments of greatness. You were practicing from a place of joy. You loved your job. You were personally invested in your patients. You thought about work even when you weren’t at the office – and not in a bad way. You did what you did because it’s what you do and who you are. Your best work, your most thoughtful treatment plans, your most careful attention to detail, and your most inspired methods of communication come when you’re happy. 

What if you’re not practicing from a place of joy?

If you’re not there, if that’s not you, you’re missing out on all the good stuff. Seriously – healthcare is exhausting, challenging and rewarding all in the same five minutes, which makes for one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. But the joy. The joy makes it all worth it. It’s the why behind what you do. Or at least it should be. If it’s not, though, all is not lost so don’t worry. You can get there. There’s a way out. You can make changes in the way you practice medicine that relieve pressure, ease tension, and actually give you something to look forward to. Just ask the traditional family doc who loved seeing patients during the day but absolutely dreaded the mountain of paperwork waiting for him after the last one went home. He transitioned to Direct Care and put all that paper right through the shredder. Or you could ask the PA who was stressed from the very beginning of her morning because her first patient ran late and she knew the rest of the day would continue to spiral out of control. She opened a Direct Care practice and now gets to spend at least 30 minutes with each patient. Thirty. Minutes.

Oh, don’t forget to ask the veteran physician who had no desire to even practice anymore because of all the insurance rules and regulations (not to mention he’s tired of keeping up with billing codes). Instead of retiring, he chose DPC. Now he works when he wants to work, with patients he truly connects with, and deals directly with them instead of a mess of third party interferers.

Strive for joy. You owe it to yourself.

You were called to this profession. You may think you chose healthcare, but the really is that it chose you. You were meant for it, and you have a responsibility to do your very best work. You have an obligation to your patients to show them what genuine, personalized healthcare looks like. So strive for the joy that inspires your greatness. Do what you have to do to give your patients real value. If that means adjusting your hours to make sure you have time for you outside the office, do it. If it means getting into the office early to do extra research on the diagnosis you saw yesterday, do it. If it means reading that novel you’ve convinced yourself you don’t have time for, just do it. When you’re happy and you know it, your patients will, too. (Yeah, go ahead. Clap your hands…)

DPC paves the way for joy.

Let’s pretend you’re in a traditional healthcare environment and you’re feeling…stuck. Frustrated. Irritated. Burnt out. Anything other than joyful. You may not have the flexibility to create joy yourself, but remember that “way out” from earlier? It’s Direct Care. Direct Primary Care is the path to joy. The path to running your practice the way you’ve always wanted to. The paved road leading straight to healthy doctor-patient relationships.

When the surefire way to cut bureaucratic red tape and practice medicine from a place of joy invites you over for dinner, you accept. It’s just that simple. (Psst. DPC is sending you an invitation right now!!!)

So have you recalled the last time you were really, really great at practicing medicine? Maybe it was yesterday and fresh in your mind. Or maybe it was so long ago you barely remember how intense that kind of rush feels. Either way, we hope you crave more of it.

Posted by: AtlasMD

October 19, 2016

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Quality of Care vs Third Parties.

Quality of Care Third parties are supposed to be helpful. But when they’re not, the result can be incredibly detrimental.

This study from The Physician’s Foundation threw out a number, associated that number with docs who felt third party elements actually took away from their ability to provide quality patient care, and that number is quite staggering.

About two-thirds (72%) said third-party intrusions detract from the quality of care.

Without generalizing too much, it’s saying that pretty much everyone agrees with the whole “direct is better” concept. Think of it this way. On some level, we all want to pour a foundation for the next generation to build upon. To leave footprints in which others may follow, right? In the epic battle between quality of care and third parties, third parties are winning. So sad. But it gets worse. This study also says nearly half of physicians polled wouldn’t even recommend this profession to their own kids. Dang.

“Enough!” Says Direct Care.

Enough with the depressing stats. Enough shattered expectations. Enough putting up with a system that breaks doctors. The story Direct Care tells is different. It’s one of hope. Passion. Freedom. Direct Care puts its foot down, and cuts out the middle man. You know, outside stuff that gets in the way of you doing your job. Direct Care essentially acts as a bulldozer for all those things. What traditional healthcare says is vital and can’t be worked around, Direct Care says isn’t more important than patient care. Forget about all the stuff that trips you up and leaves you wishing you had another 15 minutes to spend in the exam room. Or cursing at a mountain of paperwork every evening. Wait, wait. Shhh. Listen.

Can you hear them? That 72% who just heard that they don’t have to deal with third party anything if they don’t want to? They’re popping corks and throwing up confetti. They’re celebrating. Oh, we know how they feel. It’s amazing to know there’s a better way. To know that the alternative to your broken dreams are new dreams you never even imagined before. Not only helping patients on your time and their time at the same time (wrap your head around that one…) but not having to jump through hoops to do it.

Practice Direct Care. It’s the solution to third party madness, and it just might be the ticket to preserving a healthcare industry the next generation actually wants to be a part of.

Posted by: AtlasMD

August 29, 2016

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How Direct Care Challenges the System: EpiPen Alternatives

According to Business Insider, the EpiPen pricing-surge scandal brings out the worst parts of our government and healthcare system.

Challenge accepted.

People everywhere are stressed out about this $600 EpiPen fiasco, but Direct Care isn’t getting caught up in the drama. Instead, DPC docs will happily offer their patients a cost-effective alternative like this prefilled syringe case – for 18 bucks. Turns out that when you look beyond the deep pockets and greedy politics of it all, there actually is another way.

So, rather than moan and groan about the inefficiencies of traditional healthcare, why not do something about it? This is another chance for the Direct Care movement to prove what it can do without all that red tape. We can continue to go above and beyond to make healthcare effective and affordable. Because we love our jobs. And our patients.

Even though government may be trying to help by passing laws that encourage schools to stock epinephrine in order to receive certain grants, things are never that simple when there are so many moving parts. Hence, the resulting increase in demand is one of the many things that lead to a dramatic increase in price.

Sigh.

Well, once again, thank goodness for Direct Care. Where we’re always searching for a better way. And we won’t stop until we’ve found it. In fact, the docs at Atlas are working with Wichita State University’s Innovation department to develop a product similar to the prefilled syringe case mentioned above that’s an even better fit for EpiPen syringes. See what freedom can do?

Posted by: AtlasMD

July 14, 2016

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Consistently Delivering the “Different”

ConsistentlyDeliveringTheDifferent01

“The road to success isn’t productivity, it’s differentiation.” – Tony Crabbe

That statement is invaluably true – especially for DPC professionals. Your patients aren’t coming to you because you’re the same as everybody else. In fact, they’ve chosen you for the exact opposite reason. You’re gloriously different. The other guys force patients into the mold they’ve created – restrained by long waits, life-sucking insurance battles, and reduction to nothing more than a chart to be shuffled in and out the door as fast as possible.

But you, you’re different. You have something completely unique to offer. You understand the value of putting a patient’s healthcare back in their hands. You put emphasis on actual quality healthcare instead of getting all tangled up in quality metrics. But you already know why you’re doing what you do. So how can you continue to delivery the different? Let’s look at a few ideas.

Communicate Consistently.

There’s something to be said for giving your patients freedom and space, but they want and need to hear from you. Sometimes that can be your office, but other times it needs to be from you. An email, a phone call, a text, and even a video chat. The sort of personal communication that says over and over again how much you truly care. That you’ll go above and beyond for them. That they can rely on you to have their best interest at heart. This kind of communication isn’t always easy, but it’s different from what they’re used to, and it will set their expectations very high. Which is exactly what you want. Read more

Posted by: AtlasMD

June 17, 2016

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How to be the Best Problem Solver Your Patients Have Ever Worked With.

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As a DPC provider, you wear a lot of hats. You’re the doc, sure. But sometimes you’re also the nurse, pharma, scheduler, accountant, and cleaning person. All important. All over the board. So what’s the single most important thing you do? Solve your patients’ problems. It’s probably easier than you think.

How to be the Best Problem Solver Your Patients Have Ever Worked With.

Patients come see you for all sorts of things. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, you’re totally perplexed by the reason one of your patients sits in your exam room. It’s commentary you thought only existed on that Reddit thread about what should be considered medical common knowledge. (You’re searching for it now, aren’t you?)

You are, by trade, a problem solver. Honestly, when was the last time you got an email from your patient saying, “Hey doc! I feel amazing. Have some time today to chat about it?” Your patients have a lot going on in their lives, and they rely on you to be their problem solver. They rely on you to confirm their sneaking suspicion (ahem, Google) is right and their child’s skin condition is, in fact, eczema (and treatable!). Alternatively, they lean on you to advise them to stay far, far away from the internet because one minor headache doesn’t mean brain aneurism.

Okay, in all seriousness (and because we feel a little guilty for laughing at the expense of our patients!), in a world where people are drug through the mud to attain and maintain their health, you have to be their voice of reason – and that means doing one thing very, very well.

Listening.

It’s that simple. And it’s the single most important thing you can do to be the best problem solver your patients have ever worked with. They might be distressed about their condition. They might be worried about an impending diagnosis. They might be unaware a problem even exists. They might be in pain, literally. They might be confused about their symptoms. Problems come in all shapes and sizes, but no matter how they’re feeling about their health, the important thing is to get them talking so you can listen very carefully. Because the answer to your patients’ problem lies right there in between the complaint and side note anecdote of what they did last weekend.

Hopefully you’re not rushing through your day as a DPC doc (your business model is set up to give you the gift of time, after all). But if you happen to be feeling the burden of wearing all those hats at the moment, stop for a minute and remember the only thing you have to do to keep patients coming through the door is… listen. Your incredibly well-trained and compassionate mind will take over from there. Problem, solved.

Posted by: AtlasMD

December 15, 2015

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Is Your Clinic Holiday-Ready?

The holidays are right around the corner. You know that, right? We’re talking days away. Days.

Even if you completely forgot to send out Christmas cards (no judgement here!), don’t panic — there’s still time to get your DPC practice holiday-ready. Here are three simple ways you can communicate your holiday plan to your patients — keeping them in the loop, and you transparent. When everyone knows what’s going on, everyone wins.

List your holiday hours on your website.
It’s the first place your patients will go to investigate your schedule. So hop on over to your contact page and take a minute or two to update the content. Mentioning something on your blog (if you have one) wouldn’t hurt, either.

Send out an email!
It’s such a simple thing, but your patients will appreciate it more than you know. Doesn’t have to be long, or too terribly eloquent. Just be nice, wish them well this holiday season and be sure to let them know how to reach you if that method has changed from the usual. (If you use the Atlas.md EMR, freshen up on how to send an email from inside the EMR here, or using a third party here.)

Update your voicemail message.
They will call, but you won’t always be able to answer. When that happens, make sure your holiday hours are plainly stated in your voicemail message. Because if for some reason you’ll be unavailable for an extended period of time, your patients won’t waste their time calling, texting, emailing, and calling again.

So, there you go. Won’t take more than a few minutes of your time, and the result is that your patients know you have your stuff together. Oh, and there might still be time for Christmas cards! Shutterfly will even mail them for you…

Three Ways Your Direct Care Practice Can Tell A Better Story. Part Two: Branding Speaks Volumes.

2-Branding01In part one of this three-part storytelling series we talked about how literally every action you take plays a role in the story you’re telling your patients. What you do matters — even little stuff like saying thank you, responding to emails, and having a friendly face or voice to greet your patients can send a powerful message. And that’s a message you don’t want your patients to interpret on their own!

But your actions are only one part of the equation. To tell a complete story you also have to think about what your patients see when you’re not there. That’s right – we’re talking about branding.

It’s the website. It’s the brochure. It’s the business card. It’s the content of your blog, emails and texts. In one single word, it’s your identity. Good stuff, huh? Let’s talk about how you can use these branding elements to breathe life into your story and convey the real message of DPC.

One Voice

Throughout all the materials mentioned above (website, brochure, business card, content, etc.) it’s important to have one underlying theme peeking through. Is it that you’re available 24/7? Is it that you always put your patients first? Do you have a tagline you can weave in? When patients see the same message on various materials it does a couple good things: it tells them you’re put-together, and it engrains your message into their heads. Rather than just another doctor’s office, they come to identify you as the people who provide care.

So in a nutshell, what you’re trying to avoid here is sending mixed messages. If there was only one thing you could tell your patients, what would it be? Now make sure that comes across in each piece.

Visual Storytelling: Design

Small design elements can translate really well across different pieces — and go a long way toward telling a cohesive story. Let’s start with your logo. Read more

Three Ways Your Direct Care Practice Can Tell A Better Story. Part One: What You Do Matters.

1-WhatYouDoMattersAs a Direct Care practitioner, you’re doing so much more than practicing medicine. You’re telling one of the most important stories our country, and perhaps the world, needs to hear today. You’re telling the story of happiness. Of freedom. Of satisfaction. Of care. 

Your story paints a picture for healthcare patients. This picture isn’t abstract nor is it intangible. It’s vivid with color, the depth of its honesty and transparency reaching into their souls and telling them that better is possible.

In this three-part series, we’ll dig deep into some ways you can step outside your medical mindset and tell your patients a more engaging story. In return, they’ll keep coming back and sing your praises to

What you do matters.

Every interaction you have with your patients tells the story of what healthcare should look like. In it’s simplest form, this step is just about taking advantage of the foundation Direct Care was built on. It’s sticking to your word and putting your patients first in the following ways:

If you offer same day scheduling, make it happen.
Remember, your patients are probably used to waiting three weeks for an appointment, spending an hour in the waiting room, and then being shuffled right back out the door 10 minutes later. You can show them they don’t have to put up with that nonsense for another minute.

Respond in a timely fashion.
You’ve chosen to keep a limited patient count in order to make time for everyone. So since you don’t have back to back to back appointments scheduled 15 minutes apart, you likely have some form of downtime throughout your day. Use it to keep on top of patient correspondence. You might have six patients to deal with in one day, but they’re only concerned with one doctor… they want to know they’re just as important to you as you are to them. A simple response can go a long way to prove that.

Staff your office appropriately.
You don’t need a whole crew of people to man your DPC practice. You might be the only physician in it! But if you’re behind closed doors with a patient, who’s manning the front desk? The phones? Read more

The Pen and Paper Era was Accident Prone. How is Medical Tech Better?

The Pen and Paper Era was Accident Prone

“A study from the pen-and-paper era showed that 1 in 15 hospitalized patients suffered from an adverse drug event, often due to medication errors. A 2010 study (using data collected during the pre-digital era) estimated the yearly cost of medication errors in U.S. hospitals at $21 billion.” – Medium.com

Whoa.

When you look at those stats, it’s no wonder the industry couldn’t wait for a better way. Technology has done so much good in the way of standardization and reducing the margin of human errors. EMRs and the like have made it easier for docs to spend less time charting and more time actually with their patients. The benefits far outweigh any negatives, but that’s only if you use technology responsibly.

We can’t leave our jobs totally up to technology, as the story over on Medium.com illustrates perfectly. If we do, we’ll miss things like a massive accidental overdose (patient needed one pill, got 39 instead) and nobody wants to feel the guilt Nurse Levitt experienced so intensely. We’ll miss dangerous drug interaction warnings and potential allergy notifications. We’ll miss the opportunity to avoid life-threatening situations. Whether we’re in a hospital setting, or a clinic setting, this kind of attention to detail still matters. Immensely.  

We know this. And we, as Direct Care professionals, have adopted a business model that wholeheartedly embraces the very two things that can prevent errors like this from happening — even in the technology era. 

1. We’ve gotten rid of red tape and policy that does nothing but convolute the simplest of tasks. In fact, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to build the EMR that we want, and have thus turned it into a product incredibly useful for hundreds of other Direct Care practices, too. It’s based on accuracy, simplicity and ease of use. There are people working around the clock to make sure these things work together in tandem. 

2. We have time. Time to think through every prescription we order and dispense. Time to double check dosage. Time to actually pay attention to the alerts that fire when an irregularity has been electronically recognized. This gift is not something we take lightly. 

Technology can certainly make our jobs — our lives — easier and more efficient. For that we’re thankful on a daily basis. But we mustn’t forget that we are the threshold for which all medical decisions must pass. We can’t check common sense at the door in lieu of an app that thinks for us. And because we have a business model that allows us to work to the best of our abilities, we love our jobs… and therefore don’t want to just go through the motions. 

So thanks to technology, for all you do for us. But more importantly, thanks to Direct Care, for existing so that we may also operate as the best versions of ourselves. 

Medical Economics: The Rise and Fall of the Patient-Centered Medical Home.

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On paper the idea of a patient centered medical home (PCMH) sounded great. But it’s gotten so bogged down with red tape that the only thing sticking to it is doubt. At least that’s the case for PCMH early adopter John L. Bender, MD, who recently contributed his perspective to Medical Economics.

“This year I am considering not maintaining PCMH recognition. It is basically a marketplace decision. The payments from insurers to maintain my care coordinators on payroll, to continue externally reporting from my large data registry, and all the other trappings of robust PCMH just are not sufficient.”

Dr. Bender is well aware of the rise of Direct Primary Care, but he has his doubts about that, too. He warns that you don’t want to be the first, or the last to adopt a new payment model. We might argue that at this point you’ll be neither, indeed. The payment structure is working brilliantly for DPC clinics around the country, and continues to adapt to the flexibility needs of patients. Maybe its success is partially to blame for its “cult following!”

But there’s another point Dr. Bender mentioned that we’d like to address. “Whether DPC will create a reduced standard in the delivery of healthcare quality remains to be seen, and the concern for quality is perhaps the largest hurdle DPC must overcome.”

We’ll go ahead and speak on behalf of the DPC community when we say – Challenge Accepted! We know DPC presents a lot of opportunities for us, as healthcare providers, to live the life we want while providing the kind of care we always imagined – while at the same time avoiding bureaucratic policies that seem to do little more than add paperwork to the stack at the end of the day. And we didn’t go to medical school to fill out paperwork…

So we’ll press on in hopes of proving to Dr. Bender that quality is the very pinnacle of what we wake up to do every day. We make ourselves available to our patients nearly 24/7, and via nearly every communication outlet available (Skype chat, anyone?). We’ll continue to make house calls as needed, and go above and beyond to save our patients money at every turn of the bend, including on medications and procedures. We’ll develop relationships with our local medical communities to negotiate the best deals possible on external procedures like labs. We’ll continue to use our spare time to sit extra minutes with patients during their appointments, do extra research to help with their preventative care, and further spread the concept of Direct Care to everyone who will listen. We’ll continue to walk patients through their invoices line by line if they want, explaining exactly where each cost comes from (they’ll continue to not be surprised, though, because they typically know the cost in advance!).

We hope not only patients, but other physicians considering a transition to Direct Care will continue to see the value in our business model. It might seem too good to be true, but there are practices all over the country who are living proof of its validity.