The routine use of electronic portal imaging devices (EPIDs) as dosimeters for radiotherapy quality assurance is complicated by the non-water equivalence of the EPID's dose response. A commercial EPID modified to a direct-detection configuration was previously demonstrated to provide water-equivalent dose response with d(max) solid water build-up and 10 cm solid water backscatter. Clinical implementation of the direct EPID (dEPID) requires a design that maintains the water-equivalent dose response, can be incorporated onto existing EPID support arms and maintains sufficient image quality for clinical imaging. This study investigated the dEPID dose response with different configurations of build-up and backscatter using varying thickness of solid water and copper. Field size output factors and beam profiles measured with the dEPID were compared with ionization chamber measurements of dose in water for both 6 MV and 18 MV. The dEPID configured with d(max) solid water build-up and no backscatter (except for the support arm) was within 1.5% of dose in water data for both energies. The dEPID was maintained in this configuration for clinical dosimetry and image quality studies. Close agreement between the dEPID and treatment planning system was obtained for an IMRT field with 98.4% of pixels within the field meeting a gamma criterion of 3% and 3 mm. The reduced sensitivity of the dEPID resulted in a poorer image quality based on quantitative (contrast-to-noise ratio) and qualitative (anthropomorphic phantom) studies. However, clinically useful images were obtained with the dEPID using typical treatment field doses. The dEPID is a water-equivalent dosimeter that can be implemented with minimal modifications to the standard commercial EPID design. The proposed dEPID design greatly simplifies the verification of IMRT dose delivery.