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

The New ICD Billing Codes Have Launched… But We’re Still Celebrating!

Some establishments are still scrambling to make ICD ends meet. Some are just trying to recover from the bumps in the road uncovered during the October 1 launch. But Direct Care practices around the country reported smooth sailing so far – and even had some time to show off their support for DPC!

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We’ll continue to celebrate freedom from red tape and billing codes – you can, too! We’re still offering #IAmDirectCare T-shirts so you can wear your support all year round. We even heard some patients wanted shirts! Now that’s a party. Get yours over here, and see how Direct Care looks on you!

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Cheers to happy docs and happy patients.

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.

Direct Care is a Slow Tsunami.

Overwhelming. Unstoppable. Enveloping.
Direct Care is taking the nation by storm, but unlike a tsunami, it’s not of the destructive variety. Rather than water, the country is being steadily blanketed with a refreshing alternative to traditional family medicine. As it slowly (but oh, so surely) spreads from town to town, city to city, more and more people realize how much they truly benefit from the patient-centric healthcare model.

Docs are getting excited, too. Every time they hear from a happy patient they wonder why it took them so long to transition in the first place. But even better, all the great feedback they’re hearing just validates they’ve done the right thing – not only for their patients but for themselves as well. Their quality of life skyrockets and their passion for medicine reignites. Once they’ve transitioned, it’s hard to look back at their old lives and remember how negatively they felt way back when.

Dr. Catherine Krouse has gone Direct Care precisely because of the difficulty of that old life. “You just end up getting drained and drained and drained. And then when your cup is completely empty, then you just get guarded and angry. And then you put up walls, and that really creates barriers.” Read her full story here and learn about the newest Direct Care practice in Falmouth, Maine called Lotus Family Practice.

 So as this #slowtsunami continues to commence with many more stories just like Catherine’s, the Direct Care community expands with confidence and the staying power to make patients and physicians happy for the long haul.