Concierge healthcare may be a term that is unfamiliar to many, but that will not be the case for very long. As healthcare costs continue to rise, alternative models for people to receive care will be created, and the ones that provide patients with the best value for their money will succeed. Concierge healthcare is one of those models, and it’s worth considering for physicians that are concerned about providing excellent care. Let’s take a look at what concierge healthcare is and why it is beneficial to patients and physicians alike.
In short, concierge healthcare is a subscription-based service, not unlike those you find in other industries (streaming news, movies, etc). In this model, you pay on a monthly or annual basis, just like you would to host a website, watch Netflix, or any of a variety of other applications...except in this case, you’re most often paying for primary care through a general or family practitioner. Some private medical practices that follow a concierge model bill insurance companies for regular visits and use the retainer fee for non-covered services. Others do not bill insurance companies at all, and pay for all services from the retainer. In most cases, a flat rate is charged and renewed continuously. Additionally, many concierge doctors choose to limit the number of families and/or patients that they see, and this is beneficial for both parties.
Now that we’ve discussed what concierge healthcare is, let’s discuss why physicians should consider this model for their own private medical practices.
Patient satisfaction is key to keeping a private medical practice up and running successfully - at the end of the day, it is a business, and the best way to ensure success is to provide a great service. Here are some ways that concierge service can help increase patient satisfaction:
- Limiting patients. As mentioned above, it is very common for concierge practices to limit the number of patients that they take on. This allows physicians to provide more individualized care and have a better understanding of family history. In turn, there is a greater degree of familiarity between patient and doctor, and the physician has better information with which to make decisions. Patient satisfaction will improve when patients feel as though they have a reliable, knowledgeable, and accessible partner in their own healthcare.
- Easier access to physicians. One way for concierges to distinguish themselves is to provide 24/7 access to a doctor. Before you panic, read this: “A concierge medicine doctor who provides 24/7 cell phone access receives the majority (83 percent) of phone calls from patients during normal business hours, Monday through Friday.” This comes from a study conducted by the Concierge Medicine Research Collective, and should alleviate any concerns one has about being contacted too much during ‘off’ hours.
- Financially sound for both physicians and patients. With a subscription-based service, the need for patient collections processes is greatly decreased (click here to learn what to do with patients that can’t or won’t pay). A recurring retainer is a great way to ensure timely payments, and will help keep your practice above water. Here’s why it’s great for patients as well: concierge healthcare services are often charged as a flat rate, which allows patients to budget for a fixed cost. They are also assured of having their healthcare costs squared away before the need arises, and patients can benefit from bundled services (which are more cost-effective).
Making the move to a concierge practice is a big decision, but one that is well worth consideration. The benefits for both physicians and patients are significant, and the change can distinguish your practice from others. To learn more about how to improve your private medical practice, please contact us today.