According to a survey from Accenture, the number of independent physicians in the United States has decreased significantly. In 2000, roughly 57 percent of all doctors were independent; 2012, that dropped to just 36 percent. The Accenture survey credits the change to the rising model of private or subscription-based medication, which offers a more personalized experience.
Is it time for you to make the change as well? Here are some signs that the change may be a positive one and ways you can make a smooth transition.
Practicing Private Medicine
Before converting your practice, it is important to understand all the advantages of a private model of care. For example, most physicians in a traditional setting have upward of 2,000 patients, with some carrying twice that. This leaves little time for the doctor-patient relationship to develop. A concierge-style practice, on the other hand, can whittle down those panel numbers to 500 or fewer.
Other key advantages include the following:
- The ability to have longer appointment times with a patient
- The flexibility to provide patients home visits
- The opportunity to provide better preventative care
- The ability to better treat patients with chronic conditions
When it comes to compensation, Bloomberg Businessweek notes that the average doctor who practices private medicine earns between $150,000 and $300,000 a year. This is comparable to what independent physicians earn. However, many doctors who convert to a private model report that they are more satisfied with the work.
Lastly, it is possible that moving away from a traditional practice could actually reduce overhead costs. Consider that with fewer patients, fewer staff members are necessary and you may not need such a large office.
Making the Change
Once you have decided to transition your practice, there are a few ways you can ensure the change goes smoothly. Try these tips:
1.Put Together a Business Plan
Entrepreneurs set themselves up for success by putting together a comprehensive business plan. That should include:
- Financial goals and statements
- Expectations for patient load and recruitment
- A marketing plan
You might consider working with an attorney who can ensure that you have covered all your legal bases. When it comes to medicine, you already know there are federal, state and perhaps even local regulations that will dictate certain aspects of how you provide care. It is good to have all of these items addressed before you ever open your doors.
Do you know other private physicians? You can join a professional organization, like the American Academy of Private Physicians, through which you can meet others who have gone through the transition. There are annual conferences for physicians who practice private medicine where you can learn about compliance, technology and other topics relevant to your new model.
3. Put a Reliable Staff in Place
While you probably won’t need many staff members, it is imperative that you hire the best people possible. Private medicine focuses on quality treatment, which means your nurses and support staff must all be committed to excellent care.
Consider the other aspects of the practice as well: marketing, finances and information technology, for example. Instead of hiring full-time staff, consider seeking out trusted consultants who can help with these tasks.
4. Talk to Your Patients
Once you have a solid plan in place, it is time to talk to your existing patients about the change you are going to make. Many people may not understand the difference between a traditional model of care and private medicine. You get the chance to discuss the benefits and talk with them about why you are making the transition. Allow them to see why the investment they would make in private medicine is worth it.
Not only will following these tips help ease the change from traditional to private medicine, but it will also help to ensure your success. Remember that you do not have to take on the transition alone; you can rely on advice from fellow practitioners and networking groups as well as help from your staff members. Private medicine can be extremely rewarding, especially when you start your practice the right way.