Patients of Direct Primary Care (DPC) practices, like Direct Doctors, have really come to love the ability to reach their doctor through modern technology. We’re all used to texting and emailing our friends and family - so, why is the traditional medical world so behind on using this form of communication?
There are a few main reasons that your doctor isn’t letting you text them:
1. HIPAA - the federal government has special rules about what forms of communication are considered “secure” and most large offices don’t have paperwork allowing you to accept text as a form of communication about medical info. Our office lets patients make their own choices about which form works best for them, understanding that text and email can’t be considered secure. Direct Doctors also offers a HIPAA secure patient portal for those who choose it. Some of these laws have relaxed during COVID-19 and we think that’s heading in a smart direction!
2. Time - at our practice we have a maximum of 450 patients per doctor. The typical PCP has an average of over 2000 ! Our ability to guarantee text and email access to patients hinges on our dedication to limit our panel of patients. We won’t over-burden ourselves like regular insurance-based practices have to do. If their doctors could offer texting to their 1000s of patients, they would spend all day texting and have no time to see the 20+ in-person patients they have to see everyday (which is also a crazy big number!).
3. Money - Direct Primary Care practices across the country are thriving because our payment is not contingent upon in-person care. While we obviously do like to see our patients in person when clinically important and safe, we are not required to do everything in person in order to bill the patient’s insurance. The traditional fee-for-service practice has to bring you in to bill your insurance for the visit. Changes with COVID-19 now allow some use of telephone/video visits that can be billed, which is a small step in the right direction. But, a text or email is not covered by billing. So your doctor would have to do that type of care for free. When they’re that busy all day, adding on work that is done without reimbursement is frowned upon by the big corporate medical groups.
If you value the ability to DIRECTLY connect with your doctor and to use modern technology to its fullest, you may want to check out the Direct Doctors’ Difference!
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.