In today’s health care environment there are a lot of patients that don’t get the attention and care they want from the doctor. With a growing load of patients in need of care and a shrinking number of primary care providers, doctors have less and less time they can devote to each individual patient.
If you are a physician that is tired of trying to keep up with a patient load of several thousand people and you want to be able to offer more comprehensive care to the people you work with, perhaps a concierge practice is right for you. Here are some of the benefits of switching to determine if you are ready to make the change.
Develop a Better Connection with Patients
A typical medical practice often must carry a patient load of several thousand people in order to remain financially stable, and it is not uncommon for a physician to have anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 patients or more. Unfortunately this high patient load isn’t good for you as the physician, or for the people you work with. You often get only a limited window of 10 to 15 minutes to spend with each person before moving on to the next appointment, which makes it difficult to get a whole picture of what is going on and get input from the patient to provide adequate medical advice.
As a concierge physician, you can limit the number of patients that you see to about 20 percent of your current patient load, and charge a retainer fee to make up for lost income when you limit your patient load. With fewer patients on your roles, you can spend more quality time with each patient to learn about their health, history, and goals.
Offer a Higher Level of Service
Concierge medicine is no longer just for the wealthy, it has become something that doctors want to make available to a wide range of patients. Since many people are already struggling with high costs of health care, asking them to pay more means you have to offer more in exchange. Many private doctors offer patients several benefits, including:
- Same-day or next-day appointments
- Comprehensive physical examinations that last up to 60 minutes
- Access to the physician 24/7 on a personal phone, email, and social media
- Appointments with 30+ minutes of face time with the physician
- Shorter waiting times
- Focus on preventive care
- Wellness programs
- Coordinated care, even when you need to see a specialist or go to the hospital
In addition to offering more face time in check-ups and appointments, many concierge physicians see this model as a chance to really coordinate care for patients, accompanying them to the hospital or emergency room if they have to go, and following up with specialists when they are referred out of your office. This higher level of care means that you have a better picture of the overall health of your patients and can recommend treatment with the bigger picture in mind.
Same Pay, More Satisfying Work
It’s important to note that changing to a concierge medicine practice is not something you should do if your goal is just to make more money. Studies show that an average family physician makes about $150,000 to $300,000 per year regardless of whether he or she has a traditional or concierge practice. The difference is in the type of work you do—concierge physicians are able to see fewer patients in a day, slow down their pace, and spend more time with each person.
They often report that the amount of paperwork declines, while they still do about the same amount of work outside of patient care in the evenings and on weekends (since patients now have access to personal contact information 24/7). Many concierge physicians can also operate with a smaller staff, and thus fewer overhead costs, because there are fewer patients to manage and less paperwork to fill out.
Physicians that decide to make the switch to concierge practices should know that it will require some extra effort marketing and selling the benefits to patients, convincing them that paying extra money is worth it for the extra services. While it probably won’t be easy to make the switch, it often leads to a more satisfying model for patient care.