Many physicians today are feeling the crunch of operating a medical practice—the huge volume of patients that most practices carry, the paperwork required to keep up with insurance regulations and healthcare laws, and the limited time you have to make an impact on the health of the people you see every day.
If you have considered setting up a concierge medicine practice, you’re not the only one. There has been a significant increase in the number of medical doctors who are choosing to forego the traditional model of healthcare in favor of a practice where they keep patient volume low in order to provide a better experience for each patient. When decide that this model is right for you, here are five tools that will help you achieve success.
A Solid (Written) Business Plan
Most private physicians have never written a business plan, but they are a critical tool for organizing your plan and executing it successfully. A business plan is more than just an idea—it is a physical, written document that you use to outline your plan for your concierge medicine practice. You will need to identify in this document things like:
- The business model you plan to use
- A realistic goal for number of patients you want in the practice
- Retainer fees
- Interaction with insurance providers
- Financial projections for the first 3 to 5 years
Creating a good business plan means you will think through all the different scenarios in advance, and you will be prepared when you open the practice for some of the challenges you are likely to face. It is also critical if you plan to apply for a loan or seek funding to open the practice. Lenders often require that you have a plan and a financial outline that is realistic and comprehensive in order to get a loan.
A Plan for Notifying Your Patients
If you are already in a traditional medical practice, chances are you have several thousand patients. Since the point of a concierge medicine practice is to reduce the volume of patients and spend more time with each one, you won’t be able to take them all with you—and not all of them will be willing to pay an additional fee for the added value of a private doctor.
To avoid losing all of your patients, you need a plan to tell existing patients about the change—you may even want to consider taking a survey of your patients to learn what they would pay extra for, and the kind of “fluff” they don’t want to pay for. Let them know the benefits of joining your concierge practice, the fees you plan to charge (and what they will get as an added value in exchange for these fees), as well as the timeline for the change. Surprising your patients with the news today that you’re becoming a concierge practice tomorrow is never a good idea.
A Quality Marketing Team
You may not be much of a marketing person, but in order to succeed in a concierge practice you will need to either develop some marketing skills, or hire someone to help. It doesn’t have to be a large marketing team, but you want someone who can advise you on creating the right image, brand, logo, website, and marketing materials. You don’t want to send out fliers made from home that look homemade or amateurish when you’re marketing a medical practice where you ask people to pay a premium for services. If your graphic design and media skills are lacking, hire a professional.
The Right Attorney
There are legal issues that may arise, which is why having an attorney available is crucial. This person should be familiar with the legal requirements for creating a concierge medicine practice, such as identifying covered and non-covered services for third-party payers to avoid double-billing, and should have experience in health care.
A Concierge Consultant
The work of building a new medical practice or transitioning an existing practice to concierge medicine is not easy, and there are a lot of things to consider. Consultants can train your staff in proper protocol for becoming a concierge physician, recommend pricing and fee structures, identify software and processes that will make the business run smoothly, and help you reach out to patients with the right messages about how concierge medicine benefits them.