How To Know You're Ready For Concierge Medicine

The field of concierge medicine is booming. More and more people are signing up with various concierge healthcare programs, and this trend is likely to accelerate.

A significant contributing factor to the growth of concierge medicine is the proportional increase in the number of local primary care physicians adopting the practice model.

In an exploratory survey of 114 primary care physicians, who converted their practices – in whole or in part – to concierge medicine, we found a number of very clear reasons for this transition.

Topping the list is a strong desire to deliver medical care that is truly patient centered without being constrained by bureaucratic or insurance related obstacles.

Nearly nine out of ten of the physicians surveyed expressed this perspective, and it was consistently cited as the most important factor in their decision to become concierge physicians.

According to Jeffrey Friedman M.D., Director of Medicine at Community Health Associates and a member of MDVIP, “I don’t think anyone would dispute that there are a lot of problems in this country with the delivery of primary medical care.”

The second reason for neighborhood physicians converting to concierge medicine – expressed by about half those surveyed – was financial. We find that most physicians who convert to the concierge healthcare model are using the patient fees to reinvest in their practices.

“The monies I collect from my concierge patients I’ve used to upgrade equipment and staff of my practice,” says Friedman.

Considering the state of primary care medicine today, many physicians have or are considering adopting the concierge medical model. The great majority of these physicians are deeply committed to the well being of their patients.

For them, by becoming concierge physicians, they can assuredly provide a very high level of medical care including longevity planning.

The average family doctor today carries a patient load of as many as 4,000 or more patients, which often leaves very little time for one-on-one interactions. 

If you are like many physicians who are considering changing to a concierge medicine practice, here are some tips to help you successfully transition to a much smaller practice where you have the ability to provide a higher quality of care.

Starting a brand new practice as a concierge physician, or transitioning your current practice from more traditional to concierge medicine is not easy. Many doctors who have tried to do it have become tremendously successful, while others have failed. If you do it properly, you can find out how rewarding this type of practice can really be. 

Do: Start with a business plan. The best way to shape the future of your new business is to begin with a business plan that outlines how your concierge medicine practice will be structured. Your business plan should include information about your patient load, revenue streams, staffing requirements, and recruitment efforts to keep patient load at a sufficient level to support your business. 

If you are planning to get financing to open your new office, a business plan is required to show the lender your financial viability to qualify for a loan.

Don’t: Use a “boilerplate” business plan There are sample business plans available online that you can purchase, and while these can be a great resource as a starting point to let you know the types of things to include in your plan, they should be treated as just an outline.

If you copy and paste the information directly from the sample plan without customizing it for your area, the estimates about revenue, patient load, and other information will range from being either slightly wrong to wildly inaccurate, which can affect your success in the future. 

Do: Communicate with your patients early and often Most patients today are very familiar with a traditional model for primary care doctor’s offices, and some may have never heard of a concierge doctor before. Change is hard for everyone, but you can ease the transition for your patients by communicating with them about your plans to become a concierge physician, and helping them understand what that means for them.

If you surprise your patients one day without any advance notice or education about what a concierge physician is and why it’s beneficial, you may not be able to keep those patients in your new practice. 

Don’t: Assume your patients know what your new practice will be like As a physician, you are very familiar with different types of practices and different models, and you know the advantages and disadvantages of each. Patients, on the other hand, are not familiar with all this information, and it is your job to educate them on why you are choosing to become a private physician, and how it will benefit them.

If you’re not sure about the best way to reach out to your patients and help educate them, consider hiring a marketing consultant to help. 

Do: Hire the right team. Your new concierge medicine practice will require the support and help of a great team, including your staff, an accountant who understands concierge medicine practice models, an attorney, and perhaps even a healthcare consultant with experience setting up and running these types of primary care medical offices. 

Don’t: Hire a consultant with the wrong experience. There are a lot of healthcare consultants who can help you convert your practice to concierge medicine, but you want to be sure to hire one that has experience working with patients that fit your demographics, and not one that tries to make your practice fit into a “one-size-fits-all” model. 

Do: Review your practice regularly. Set a schedule to review your practice at least once a year to ensure that you are meeting your goals, and find areas where you can improve. You can do this on your own, or with the help of a consultant, to make sure that your practice is thriving for years to come.

Sometimes change can be scary, but both patients and physicians often appreciate the improved care that comes with a concierge practice. 

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