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conciergemedicine

Avoid the Pitfalls of building a Concierge Medical Practice

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.

 

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Marketing, like politics, is the art of the possible

Marketing is a necessary investment into your practice. Sadly, however, most businesses don’t see a high enough return or no return on their marketing investments. There are many reasons for this but one reason that seems to be a recurring theme when I consult with clients, is that there messaging is lost in translation when it comes to their targeted audiences. This means most small businesses seem to create marketing campaigns that lack one very necessary component and that’s creating a marketing strategy targeted to the right audience that distinguishes your business from competitors. The objective of all marketing plans is to fit your product and or service into the changing environment of everyday life, transforming how people live, work and play.

So what does that mean? Forbes’ contributor, Jack Trout lays out the essence of marketing into two sentences and uses two case studies to explain the steps of a successful marketing campaign.

First, your marketing’s responsibility is to see that everyone is playing the same tune in unison. Second, it’s marketing’s assignment to turn that tune or differentiating idea into what we call a coherent marketing direction.

The notion of a differentiating idea requires some thought. What kind of idea? Where do you find one? These are the initial questions that must be answered.

To help you answer these questions, I propose using the following specific definition. A differentiating idea is a competitive mental angle.

This kind of idea must have a competitive angle to have even a chance for success. This does not necessarily mean a better product or service, but rather, there must be an element of differentness. It could be smaller, bigger, lighter, heavier, cheaper or more expensive. It could be a different distribution system.

Furthermore, the idea must be competitive in the total marketing arena, not just competitive in relation to one or two other products or services. For example, Volkswagen‘s decision in the late 1950s to introduce the “first” small car was an excellent competitive idea. At the time, General Motors was manufacturing nothing but heavily chromed patrol boats. The Beetle was a runaway success.

The VW Beetle was not the first small car on the market, of course. But it was the first car to occupy the “small” position in the mind. “Think small,” said the Volkswagen ads. It made a virtue out of its size, while the others apologized for their small size by talking about “roominess.”

An example of a new bad idea is Volvo’s sporty coupe and convertible. We see no competitive angle against BMW, Mercedes or Audi (just to name a few).

Second, a differentiating idea must have a competitive mental angle. In other words, the battle takes place in the mind of the prospect.

Competitors that do not exist in the mind can be ignored. There were plenty of pizza places with home delivery operations when John Schnatter launched Papa John’s International . But nobody owned the “better ingredients” position in the mind.

A competitive mental angle is the point in the mind that allows your marketing program to work effectively. The angle is the point you must leverage to achieve results. But an idea is not enough. To complete the process, you need to turn the idea into a strategy. (If the idea is a nail, the strategy is the hammer.)

What’s a strategy? A strategy is not a goal. Like life itself, a strategy ought to focus on the journey, not the goal. Top-down thinkers are goal-oriented. They first determine what it is they want to achieve, and then they try to devise ways and means to achieve their goals.

But most goals are simply not achievable. Goal-setting tends to be an exercise in frustration. Marketing, like politics, is the art of the possible.

Roger Smith took over General Motors in 1981. He predicted that GM would eventually own 70% of the traditional Big Three domestic car market, up from about 66% in 1979. To prepare for this awesome responsibility, GM began a $50 billion modernization program. Boy, was he wrong. Currently, General Motors’ share of the Big Three domestic market is 28% and falling. His goal was simply not achievable, because it was not based on a sound idea.

In my definition, a strategy is not a goal. It’s a coherent marketing direction. A strategy is coherent in the sense that it is focused on the idea that has been selected. Volkswagen had a big tactical success with the small car, but it failed to elevate this idea to a coherent strategy. It forgot about “small” and instead elected to bring into the U.S. market a family of big, fast and expensive vehicles. But other car manufacturers had already preempted these automotive ideas. This opened the way for the Japanese to take over the small car idea.

Second, a strategy encompasses coherent marketing activities. Product selection, pricing distribution, advertising–all the activities that make up the marketing mix must be coherently focused on the idea. (Think of a differentiating idea as a particular wavelength of light and the strategy as a laser tuned to that wavelength. You need both to penetrate the mind of the prospect.)

Finally, a strategy is a coherent marketing direction. Once the strategy is established, the direction shouldn’t be changed.

warkprofileprofessionalThe purpose of the strategy is to mobilize your resources to preempt the differentiating idea. By committing all your resources to one strategic direction, you maximize the exploitation of the idea without the limitation that the existence of a goal implies. In other words, don’t put your eggs all in one basket. For more information on marketing, or to help you update your marketing plan, call us at 702-682-8300

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Top Five EHR and Practice Management for Medical Practices

 The Mechanics of Keeping Your Patients Part 2

Running a profitable medical office requires keeping on top of key metrics such as accounts receivable ratios and net collection percentages. However, you have to look beyond those numbers to stay in the black, experts say. Successful practices prioritize teamwork and ensure that everyone on staff knows their role in the revenue cycle and that includes implementing an integrated practice management and EHR software system that best-suits your practice.

For a medical practice, EHR may be important — but practice management is essential. According to KLAS ratings, the top five practice management software systems are as follows:

    • 1. – Epic has become the default system of choice for hospitals, particularly larger hospitals. As a system designed for large enterprises, it is not even an option for small medical practices. While customers may choose Epic as much for its reputation and the breadth of its suite as for any single piece of software, the KLAS rating shows they are also happy with the practice management functionality, which actually reflects the performance of multiple products
  •  2. – Aethenahealth: Aethenahealth rates #1 for practices of fewer than 75 physicians. While most practice management software vendors offer some version of their product as a cloud service, Athenahealth is the one most insistent on sticking exclusively to a cloud model. Just as significantly, the AthenaCollector software is inextricably linked to the company’s business services. One major strength of Aethenahealth is that it can see where in the workflow employees are getting hung up, or how long it takes a patient to get checked in or checked out for a visit.
  •  3. – eClinicalWorks: Ranking in the KLAS survey as one of the top practice management systems for practices of all sizes, eClinicalWorks is second only to Epic for practices with more than 75 physicians. eClinicalWorks boats that it’s clients currently experience a 98% first-pass acceptance rate (claims paid on first submission).
  •  4. – NextGen Healthcare is another of the top-ranked practice management systems in the KLAS survey across practices of all sizes. NextGen offers a revenue cycle management service, although so far fewer than 5% of customers take advantage of it. The software’s ability to track the work that needs to be done to process claims and secure payments are among NextGen’s strongest features. While often overshadowed by EHR hype, practice management is really the core of the system.
  •  5. – McKesson shows up in the KLAS rankings for two products, Practice Plus, one of the favorites for practices of 75 or more doctors, and Practice Partner for smaller practices. McKesson prodcuts are distinguished by their ability to adapt to individual locations, so it’s not cookie cutter, and adjust software workflow to the way a practice functions.

warkprofileprofessionalPractice management software is just one component of helping keep medical offices running smoothly. Technology systems are not the only systems that need to be adopted in your practice. Before you decide a system that fits your practice, you need to have a full grasp of every function in your practice. For example:

  • What happens when a new patient contacts you?
  • What actions happen when you sign on a new patient?
  • What steps do you follow to deliver your healthcare services?
  • What tasks need to be completed when you complete a project?
  • How do you run your back office and administrative affairs?
  • What roles and responsibilities do any team members (employees, subcontractors, etc.) have and what steps do they follow to meet those duties?
  • What does your schedule look like? What constitutes “open for business hours” and “closed for business” time?
  • What are your policies and procedures for working with patients? (Think: patient forms and arbitration agreements.)
  • What are your billing and payment policies and procedures?

The above components are all a part of creating standard operating procedures and policies to adhere to at every level of your practice. If you need help with designing your operations in a way to help your practice runs efficiently, please give us a call. It’s time to start running your medical practice like a very successful business.  Call us today at 702-682-8300.

systems-and-procedures

The Importance of an Infrastructure in a Medical Practice

The Mechanics of Keeping Your Patients Part 1

Operating a private healthcare practice in today’s environment presents many challenges. Shrinking insurance reimbursements, changing regulations, rising business costs, can all feel like barriers to success. Over the last few years, there has been a shift towards attracting private pay patients with the advent of Concierge Medicine, MediSpas, and various complementing services that doctors are pushing in their practice to increase revenue.

What does it take to have a successful medical practice today? Most physicians rely on referrals for getting new patients, as their marketing budget is limited to social media channels and patient referrals. But spreading the word about your business without building an infrastructure within the operations is a recipe for mediocrity. What does that mean? It means that without having systems and procedures in place, patients will constantly be falling through the cracks. But the right “point of care tools” can not only save your practice, they can take it to the next level.

Every medical practice or small business for that matter needs a starting place when building out its infrastructure. With the advent of Obamacare, many practice management software systems have been designed to help automate your operating system along with integrating your PM system with Electronic Health Records.

Integrated platforms that are more user friendly, while both comprehensive in their features and functionality, are vital to success in a very competitive medical industry.  But beware, you ultimately will get what you pay for.  Doctors usually are more familiar with their EMR needs and functionality than they are about the needs on the Practice Management side. Keep in mind that while you may be providing high quality care, you may not be able to collect what you’re due if your Practice Management system or Staff doesn’t have the ability to track the right metrics.  You should also consider outsourcing your Billing & Collections as your best bet in getting your receivables paid.

warkprofileprofessionalPractice management software keeps the medical office running smoothly, and the wrong package can wreak havoc with billing, scheduling, and other essential business processes. A closer look at KLAS’ top-ranked systems will help you choose the one that best fits your practice. Next week we will cover the top five Practice Management software systems for medical practices.

 

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