Primary Care Doctor 2.0: A New Look at a Long-Standing Profession

The world of the primary care doctor has been rapidly changing and will continue to do so over the coming years. Insurance concerns, higher patient expectations about care, an expansion in services provided and a decline in reimbursements are all prompting the need for primary care physicians to find new ways to stay successful and grow their practices as a result. Being a primary care doctor is not easy and I applaud those who follow their calling in the face of these and other health care challenges.

With declining reimbursements and continuous pressure by insurance companies, physicians find themselves seeing more patients to make the same amount of money as in the prior year. In some cases, physicians even end up with less money despite an increased patient load. According to a survey completed by Medscape, 40 percent of doctors are seeing more than 25 patients a day, and 66 percent of doctors are seeing patients 45 hours a week and with little to no increase in compensation. At the same time, patients have higher expectations and less patience. They want more time with their doctor, better communication, and instant access to their medical information. Internet savvy patients come prepared with more information, suggestions, and questions. A survey that nearly 75 percent of patients want to connect online with their doctor. They want easy access to lab results, the ability to request appointments, pay medical bills, and communicate directly with their doctor’s office.

Due to all these changes physicians need to be more business-minded and keep a sharper eye on their bottom line. We’ve all seen stories in the news about doctors going bankrupt, selling their practice to a hospital or taking early retirement. The time is now to take back control to avoid revenue cycle and cash flow disruptions without compromising patient care.

To that end, many physicians are looking for smart and creative ways to make their practices thrive.  Some have started to look into direct pay models. Forbes has reported that 12 percent have changed into direct payment practices and another 7 percent said they are planning to move in this direction. Others are exploring alternate business models. For example, consulting firm Accenture found that one in three independent physicians is looking at subscription-based models as an option for their practice. Many primary care physicians are realizing the necessary shift in perspective from being just a clinician to also being a business owner. It is becoming more and more important to focus on creating a successful practice that creates a profit. This provides the freedom to continue practicing medicine for many years to come and stay on top of the ever-changing primary care landscape.

At Hello Health we provide doctors with a free EMR, patient portal and a suite of communication tools. The Hello Health platform creates recurring revenue of up to $20,000 per year per physician before meaningful use payments. We have created this platform and business model with the primary care doctor in mind. We may not be able to impact all the changes in health care but we can help doctors stay in practice, connect more with patients, and be more profitable. We provide physicians with the tools to make their practice more successful.

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About the Author
Patrick Stevenson

Patrick Stevenson is Vice President, Channel Sales for Hello Health, the only revenue generating EHR platform for primary care and pediatrics practices.