Are you considering transforming your medical practice into a concierge medical practice? If so, than there are a few do’s and don’t’s that can make the difference between success and failure.
The average family doctors see about 4,000 patients in their practice which leads very little time for one-on-one interaction with the patient. In order to have a successful concierge practice, you have to change your large insurance-based practice into a more patient-centric practice by reducing the size of your patient load so can provide a higher quality of care.
Starting a new concierge practice is not easy. There are many doctors who do it successfully while others have failed miserably. If you do it properly, you can reap the benefits of receiving higher pay, quality care with patients, and the overall rewarding experience of receiving cash for your time rather than the paper chase and denials of insurance-based practices.
Do: start with a business plan
It is completely astonishing that most small businesses lack a business plan that is relevant to their business services and produces as well as their position in the market place. A business plan is a road map to show you how to price points, service offerings and overall how to reach your goals. 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. 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. 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.
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. Spend the necessary time to customize your plan to fit the needs of the market and to position yourself in a more strategic place than your competitors.
Do: educate your patients of your new practice
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, spell it out for them in your marketing materials
As a physician, you are very familiar with different types of practices and different models, and you know the advantages and disadvantages. 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 – hire slowly & fire quickly
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 a healthcare consultant with experience setting up and running patient-centric businesses. Every single employee from manager to operator needs to be on board with your patient-centric business model and culture. If one employee is not, then don’t waste your time. Fire them.
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. I have noticed the greatest benefit that a consultant can have when being hired for a concierge medical practice is experience in developing a menu of cash services. You do not want the practice management consultant who only has experience in insurance-based medical practice business models. These two models are tremendously different. One model treats patients as if they are a number and the time the doctor spends with the patient is very limited. The other model is based on a patient-centric model whereby each contact with the patient ensures a positive experience.
Do: review your practice regularly
Constant gauging and auditing your progress is a necessary task that will show you if you are meeting your goals. 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.