Posted by: AtlasMD

September 22, 2015

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Hard for You. Easy for Your Patients. Perfect.

This article over on HelpScout’s blog is all about how to write well. How easy reading is damn hard to write. Well, you’re not writers, you’re healthcare professionals… but the concept still applies.

It applies in the most basic of ways — how you communicate with your patients. You have to translate medical terminology into something your patients can understand (they didn’t go to medical school at all, remember?). You have to break it down into simple, everyday words. What you say must be easy to digest. That means getting rid of all the excess stuff. Stuff like phrases that only repeat your point rather than further illustrating your point — there’s a difference.

Like the article says, “Great writing moves you effortlessly through the words; reading becomes as quick as thought.” Which is why it’s more than what you say or don’t say. It’s how you say it.

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This whole “easy reading is damn hard” concept also applies on a deeper level of Direct Care. A level that stretches beyond writing, actually. This level is why your patients love you so much. It’s why they feel the need to tell people in the supermarket line about you. It’s because you make healthcare easy for them. You make them feel good about the decision they made to be part of the Direct Care movement. You make them feel empowered by their choice to ditch red tape and middle men. You make them healthier and more confident as they leave the tangled web that is health insurance behind.

So as you continue to provide excellent care for your patients, you’ll also continue to find your own style. Your own writing style, your own bedside manner style, your own practice style.

“Novelist Neil Gaiman once said that writers find their own voices only after they’ve sounded like a lot of other people. On the road to writing your own seminal sentences, start by studying those that have stood the test of time.”

We want to help make all this easier on you. We’ve done the legwork, the really hard stuff. We, and many others, have built Direct Care practices which have stood the test of time. So while you’re busy finding your own voice, it’s okay to use ours for a while. Get it in the DPC Curriculum. Get it through our free consulting services. We’re standing by at hello@atlas.md, excited to hear how you’re working hard to make life easier for your patients!

You Have Time, But You Still Need Efficiency.

As a DPC doc, time is on your side. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do everything in your power to manage it effectively. Tasks like handling off-hours communication, or sending effective and quick email responses can be streamlined to make sure you have time for everything. Here are a few tips to help make sure you have a leg up on your time management instead of the other way around.

Do your patients follow up on their own emails?

If your patients send emails, and then follow up with questions, perhaps there’s more you can do to make your response to them robust and comprehensive. Anticipate their needs, and include more information than they’ve asked for. Go a step above and beyond what they’re expecting. Speak human, not doctor. You went to medical school, not your patients! Use simplified terms, and include links to more in-depth explanation where applicable. Here’s a great resource to make each and every email you send infinitely better, from your word choice, to tone, to the actual content of your message.

Do you send the same email time and time again?

Your patients have lots of questions, and it’s great that you’re available to answer them all. But those questions become repetitive and before long you find yourself typing the same response over and over. Something’s gotta give, right? Use text snippets to reduce the time you spend responding while still maintaining your email’s integrity. Tools like Breevy integrate with your operating system to abbreviate bits of content, and then automatically expand into an entire paragraph. Essentially, it works just like macros in the Atlas.md EMR if you’re familiar. Super handy, quick, and accurate! Read more

Misinterpretation Gone Wild. The HIPAA Edition.

Misinterpretation Gone Wild. The HIPAA Edition.

We cannot breathe a sigh of relief deep enough to adequately express how glad we are to be cutting the red tape that surrounds traditional healthcare. More specifically, HIPAA. Its rules and regulations are so convoluted that people don’t know which way is up… and that leads to interrupting a private conversation in a hospital cafe reprimanding the wife of a dying cancer patient for speaking publicly about a patient. Baffled yet? Yup, so were we.

An article posted recently on the NY Times gave several instances where HIPAA was misunderstood, and the consequences could have been dire. Take Ericka Gray’s story, for example:

In 2012, Ericka Gray repeatedly phoned the emergency room at York Hospital in York, Pa., where her 85-year-old mother had gone after days of back pain, to alert the staff to her medical history. “They refused to take the information, citing Hipaa,” said Ms. Gray, who was in Chicago on a business trip.

“I’m not trying to get any information. I’m trying to give you information,” Ms. Gray told them, adding that because her mother’s memory was impaired, she couldn’t supply the crucial facts, like medication allergies.

By the time Ms. Gray found a nurse willing to listen, hours later, her mother had already been prescribed a drug she was allergic to. Fortunately, the staff hadn’t administered it yet.

Now, we get what HIPAA is trying to do: keep personal health information private. And that’s a noble gesture. But there are so many hoops to jump through just to get it right that there ends up being more ways to get it wrong. In the DPC world, we love communicating with our patients how they prefer. Read more

Posted by: AtlasMD

July 6, 2015

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Medscape: Why Internists Are Number One in Physician Burnout

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It’s a simple truth: nobody wants to feel burned out. Nobody wants to lose their passion, feel like a failure at their career of choice, or feel like nothing more than a cog in the wheel. But that’s exactly what 50% of physicians in internal medicine are experiencing, according to a new study published by Medscape. Many of you reading this know the feeling first hand, which is what lead to you to Direct Care to begin with. But fifty percent? That burnout rate is higher than the rate of other U.S. workers… So what’s the deal? Why internists?

Among the 26 specialties surveyed by Medscape, “internal medicine faces the highest combination of prevalence and intensity of burnout,” Dr Hood pointed out. He speculated that this may be an unfortunate by­product of “a high idealism among internists, who not only chose what they wanted to do in their professional lives but accepted doing this work knowing that they were accepting a lower relative evaluation of their services, economically and noneconomically.

“Idealism,” Dr Hood noted, “can predispose for disappointment, particularly when the locus of control is outside that of the physician.” 

Time is also to blame for such a high burnout rate. This is ironic, because in DPC, time is the very thing that breathes life back into medicine. But the traditional healthcare environment fosters a “hot but slow burn. The endless flow of forms grinds physicians down.” Plus, as the task of certificate maintenance is adjusted for a higher level of difficulty, it only “adds fuel to the fire.”

When you look at it that way, it kind of makes sense. You put up with the “stress, depersonalization and emotional exhaustion” for years and years – by the time you call it quits you can’t cut into your retirement cake fast enough, right? Wrong. Internists don’t have to wait until retirement to hit the brick wall of burnout. It’s happening to docs 35 years of age and younger. That astronomical fact is mind blowing because by the time you graduate from med school and complete your residency, that’s barely enough time to get your feet wet in the real world before you’re ready to throw in the towel! What makes sense now is that aspiring internists are thinking twice before jumping in at all.

The Real Burnout Villain

It’s true, internists have a lot working against them right off the bat. One internists lays it all on the line:

“What’s going wrong? Really? How about what’s not going wrong? Insurance companies playing doctor; federal and state lawmakers who openly junketeer on insurance and pharma dollars, then pass legislation that blatantly benefits those industries; federal agencies and private certification bodies that actively engage in racketeering practices targeting physicians; and a general public that thinks Dr Oz is the bee’s knees.” 

That sounds like enough to send someone running in the other direction. And if it weren’t for their innate, undeniable, inherent desire to help others, many probably would. Even that sentiment is being shoved under the rug, as more and more healthcare professionals observe that patient care doesn’t really matter anymore.

Let The Light Shine!

It’s time for a little optimism here. Burnout is depressing, something we’ve all admitted we want to avoid, right? Well thank the stethoscope gods there’s a way. In fact, one of the internists Medscape interviewed put it quite succinctly.

“The most effective way to combat job burnout is to quit doing what you’re doing and do something else, whether that means early retirement or changing careers.” 

Now, we happen to think your talents should not go unused, which is why it’s a good idea for you and your career to spend a little time in counseling together before you part ways. That passion is still there. You still want to help people. You still care about others. Getting back to the solution to burnout… Direct Care is waiting with open arms. This business model wants you to succeed. It urges you to spend more time with your patients. It implores you to run an in-house pharmacy and handle your own billing. It desires your happiness and the happiness of your patients. It welcomes your intense attention to personalized care. It rewards you for doing what you always wanted to do in the first place.

We hate to admit it – burnout is real. But it doesn’t have to be the end. In fact, it’s really just the beginning…

Celebrating Freedom!

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This year, Direct Primary Care Practices have put down roots in more towns across the U.S. than ever before, and if that’s not a massive reason to celebrate freedom, then we don’t know what is. But let’s take a minute to examine those freedoms a little bit closer.

DPC does more than give patients an alternative to traditional healthcare. It obliterates endless minutes spent in waiting rooms, hidden costs and anxiety-inducing response times. It provides a platform where patients truly feel like the priority they are instead of just one of thousands of folders in a filing cabinet. With the freedom to use means of communication like text, email, and Twitter DM, all roads lead to a better patient/doctor relationship. That being said, the patient isn’t the only one who benefits from DPC freedoms.

Providers in the DPC realm are happier than those within the walls of traditional healthcare. They have control over their schedule, never have to rush patients out the door, and have literally been given the gift of time. It’s no wonder they’re falling in love with medicine again!

The freedoms of Direct Care result in a better healthcare experience for those on the giving end… and on the receiving end. This weekend, celebrate being free to choose DPC.

The Atlas.md EMR is Lowering Credit Card Transaction Fees!

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After much internal consideration, research, and full-circle thinking, we’re in a really exciting position to show you just how much we care about the success of your Direct Care practice. The credit card transaction fee in the Atlas.md EMR has dropped from 3.1% to 2.5%.

We’re Putting Ourselves in Your Shoes

At the core of it all, we’re only giving you what we would want if we were in your position. And that’s to know the company behind the product is thinking about us all the time. We’ve lowered the fee to make all the features you’re privy to more affordable and cost effective. It’s worth the loss in profit to us to know you’re getting the most bang for your buck!

We’re a Business, But…

Our driving passion isn’t to make money. It’s to help you build and run a successful DPC practice that will give you the life you want, and your patients the care they deserve. The whole point of Direct Primary Care is to lower overhead and cut red tape. Actions speak louder than words, which is why we dropped that number. A transaction fee may seem like a small thing, but we know it’s huge to you.

Thank you for being loyal customers of the Atlas.md EMR. We hope we can remain by your side as you continue to breathe life into Direct Care.

Academic DPC: Where Direct Primary Care and Academics Meet.

As physicians and healthcare providers around the country continue to see success with their Direct Primary Care endeavors, they’re spreading the word. Sometimes it’s through social media. Other times it’s through speaking engagements. And yet other times, as is the case with Dr. James Breen, it’s digging deeper into areas previously untapped by DPC. His new blog explores something called Academic DPC:

Academic DPC is the brainchild of Dr. James Breen, an academic family physician with a clinical background in both rural and urban Federally-Qualified Health Center (FQHC), multi-specialty and academic practices.  This site is an attempt to address the ‘blind spot’ that DPC currently holds in the world of academic medicine, offering a host of information, links and resources to help academic physicians and trainees grow in their knowledge of Direct Primary Care.

Thus, the mission of Academic DPC is twofold:

1. To foster awareness of Direct Primary Care in medical education and to support DPC curricular development among academic physicians and learners; and

2. To assemble a community of academic and community physicians and other educators, as well as residents and medical students, who share a common interest in Direct Primary Care.

So let’s cheer Dr. Breen on as he continues to enlighten people in academia about the immense benefits of Direct care!

What if Restaurants, like Hospitals, Refused to Share Their Prices?

Remember that post about what would happen if restaurants billed like hospitals? Well, in another similar yet oh-so-different comparison, we see what happens when the billing process is stuck under the table like gum. In “What if Restaurants, like Hospitals, Refused to Share Their Prices?” by KQED, we learn that Americans hold a serious grudge against the hospital billing process. There’s seemingly no better way to express our frustration than putting our angst side by side with something we love – food.

It all started with this analogy shared on Twitter:

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Christina Farr, the author of the post (and this article) said she was “floored by the volume and breadth of responses, which ranged from laugh-out-loud funny to downright depressing.” At the end of the day, though, it lights a fire under our… well, you know, to tell more people about DPC. Because as incredible as it sounds, DPC docs (and patients!) don’t have to worry about wonky billing practices, misleading costs, networks, or any other billing shenanigans for that matter. 

Billing with DPC is structured just like the rest of of the model – it’s based on an open patient-doctor relationship built on trust. Patients know what they’re being charged before they’re charged. Not only is it a totally transparent process, but it’s reliable and consistent.

We’re not ones to walk away from a problem, but this is one issue we’re thrilled to sidestep in lieu of something better.

Posted by: AtlasMD

February 25, 2015

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Direct Care Sells Itself.

In the most recent Atlas MD podcast Drs. Josh and Doug touch on something every DPC physician should embrace.

Direct Care sells itself.

Having said that, those new to the DPC business model have a unique opportunity to propel the “self-selling” part forward. In a nutshell, make pristine examples out of your first few patients. Be impeccable, intuitive, proactive, and all the other positive adjectives that might describe DPC docs. No excuses. Make it impossible for your patients to overlook the value in what you have to offer. Show them what their care is made of so they’re bursting to tell everyone they know. Here’s why letting them in is so crucial:

When you show how a product is made, you’re inviting your customers behind-the-scenes and enchanting the narrative they hold of you. There is a fundamental difference between simply using a product versus using a product where you also know its history and how it was conceived—the latter elicits an emotional connection.

DPC is already emotionally charged, so it’s only fitting that transparency is what will keep patients coming back. If Direct Care physicians give their patients the right ammo, patients might just change the face of healthcare all on their own.

Read more on the topic of how a product sells itself and why. >

Posted by: AtlasMD

February 23, 2015

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Six Abilities DPC Docs Should Have, Plus One More.

In a recent article over at the DPC Journal, it’s suggested that DPC docs must know a set of six things in order to be successful with the Direct Care business model. Those traits and abilities include tenacity, passion, management of fear, failure and uncertainty, vision and task-specific confidence, planning and flexibility, and finally, rule-breaking.

Those are all crucial, and very telling characteristics of someone running their own practice, but we think they left one out. We’d like to add a #7 to this list.

Refusal to Settle

The healthcare industry has set so many precedents and standards; it’s tough to break the mold. Medical students are immediately overwhelmed by rules and regulations; it’s no wonder they feel trapped right out of the gate. But those who succeed in Direct Care are perpetually striving for better. Working toward improvement. Cutting through red tape to get where they want to go. Their vision for the kind of practice they always hoped existed drives them forward and they refuse to settle for what’s not working.

If we’re honest, the list of great characteristics of DPC docs is much longer than six or seven. The takeaway from all this is that the Direct Care movement is opening doors to physicians everywhere, allowing them to be the best version of themselves. Which directly results in the best version of their patients. And that’s what it’s all about.