March 1, 2022, 11:25 a.m. News Staff — The AAFP launched its Innovation Lab in 2019 with the goal of reducing family physicians’ administrative burden — and the burnout that often accompanies it — by partnering with industry to leverage digital solutions based on proven technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. Since then, the Academy has completed a succession of Innovation Labs to identify and demonstrate technologies essential to optimizing the family medicine experience and enhancing patient care delivery.
One recent lab took solid aim at a root cause of the burnout so many physicians struggle with: the traditional fee-for-service payment model and its associated pitfalls (e.g., large panels, short visits, the excess overhead required to manage insurance requirements). The lab studied Hint Health’s direct primary care membership management solution, HintOS, which is designed to help physicians handle all aspects of prospective membership and payment as they shift from an FFS to a DPC payment model.
The combined impact of DPC and HintOS was assessed in a sample of 10 family physicians through quantitative and qualitative questionnaires administered during virtual interviews with each participant.
All 10 physicians reported that moving from FFS to DPC allowed them to spend more time interacting with patients. Before adopting DPC and starting to use HintOS, they described their time with patients as ranging from “inadequate” to “constrained”; afterward, each of them reported having “ample” time with patients. Specifically, the average length of physician visits increased nearly threefold, from an average of 15 minutes to 44.6 minutes.
Also remarkable was the improvement in patient panel size in the DPC environment. Panel size dropped steeply, from about 1,500 to an average of 434 (range: 150-800), with physicians identifying the ideal panel size as ranging from 500 to 800 patients.
As a result of these changes, physicians reported that their overall satisfaction with their practice more than doubled, moving from 4.2 to 8.9 on a 10-point scale. (Notably, the chief reason they cited for not reporting a satisfaction score of 10 was not having achieved their ideal practice size.) Another plus, they said, was that given the time savings and other upsides of operating an affordable DPC practice, they also were able to care for more uninsured and underinsured patients.
Finally, when asked on a scale of 1-10 whether they would recommend HintOS to a colleague as a useful tool to smooth the process of converting from FFS to DPC, the physicians reported a median score of 9.8. As for what they would actually say to a colleague about Hint, the overwhelming response was “Hint takes care of changing to DPC,” including eliminating the burdens associated with getting paid.
Complete results of the lab are still being finalized, so there’s more to come. Keep an eye on AAFP News in the coming weeks to learn more, including how you may be eligible to participate in a larger free trial of HintOS.