Direct Primary Care at Johns Hopkins Medicine

The employee health benefit enters its second year of providing convenient, personalized services.

Photos by Keith Weller

Published in Dome - Dome September/October 2019

When Johns Hopkins Health System employees choose health care coverage for calendar year 2020, the Direct Primary Care practice will continue as a benefit.

The practice offers extended hours as well as virtual services with a primary care provider. After nearly a year in operation, DPC continuously earns among the highest patient experience scores of all primary care practices in the nation, according to Steve Kravet, president of Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, the organization responsible for the practice.

It will also receive a 2019 award for innovations in clinical care from the Office of Johns Hopkins Physicians.

“Our vision was to fundamentally change the way we deliver primary care,” Kravet says. “Further, through enhanced patient-provider relationships, DPC has decreased unnecessary urgent care, emergency care and specialty visits.”

Carolyn Le, a certified registered nurse practitioner, joined the Direct Primary Care practice last year. She and her colleague, physician Norman Dy, enjoy working closely with patients to develop treatment plans and to engage them in their own care. She recently responded to some frequently asked questions about the practice.

1. What services do you provide?

We offer sick visits, follow-ups, preventive health care, an annual physical and routine Pap smears. A comprehensive list is available at

2. How do I enroll in Direct Primary Care for 2020? Must current members reenroll?

Any Johns Hopkins Health System employee, including current DPC patients, will need to sign up during open enrollment using the SmartSource benefits platform.

Anyone who enrolls will need to agree to participation requirements, such as seeing a DPC provider in-person at the Columbia, Maryland, practice at least once before March 30, 2020. Knowing you better, and understanding your health history, will help guide us with your preventive care.

3. Is Direct Primary Care an insurance plan?

No. Direct Primary Care is an added benefit to the Employer Health Program (EHP) PPO or EPO plans. Any services not covered by the Direct Primary Care benefit will be billed according to your selected EHP plan.

4. What is the difference between Direct Primary Care and urgent care?

With urgent care, you probably see someone you’ve never met before. As your Direct Primary Care provider, we’ve had opportunities to talk in-depth about your concerns and about things that can contribute to or exacerbate those concerns. We can better address whatever is going on because we have that history and that relationship, and we can continue to monitor and manage your care.

5. I see that the copayment for the first eight office visits is waived through the benefit. What counts as a visit? What happens when I reach my limit?

The Direct Primary Care practice considers an office visit or a video visit as one visit. After you reach your limit, each additional visit is covered by your EHP insurance plan with your regular copayments.

New services offered through DPC

6. Can I sign up my spouse and children for Direct Primary Care?

After you elect to participate, you can also sign up your spouse and adult children for the benefit.

Direct Primary Care doesn’t offer pediatric services. However, your selected EHP insurance plan will cover any child under the age of 18. That means you can still bring your kids to the pediatrician, same as you do now.

7. Do I use Direct Primary Care to help manage my diabetes?

We can work closely with your specialist. I get alerts whenever you’ve seen a specialist [within Johns Hopkins]. After reviewing the notes, I often reach out to the patient and say, “Maybe we should touch base, talk about what happened in the specialist visit and make sure we are all on the same page.” In Direct Primary Care, we tie everything back together and make sure that we have the big picture.

8. Can patients really call you in the middle of the night and on weekends?

Absolutely. Patients understand when something is urgent, and honestly, I appreciate that they call to let me know what is going on. Oftentimes, it is something that I can manage remotely and schedule a follow-up office visit instead of sending patients to urgent care or the emergency room. Our patients have really benefited from this service.

9. What would you tell an employee who is interested in the program, but is on the fence about signing up?

Direct Primary Care is ideal for anyone who is looking to build a stronger patient-provider relationship and seeking more personalized care.