Surge in membership medicine opportunities fueled by administrative challenges, reimbursement reductions, operating cost escalation and retiring concierge physicians.
Concierge medicine, once thought of as care available for only a fortunate few, is experiencing a remarkable evolution as physician pathways to the model have become more numerous than ever before. Physicians currently employed by hospitals and health systems, or as an employee in a group practice, are now able to consider providing care freed from the constraints of a traditional, volume based, fee-for-service practice. While the starting point may vary, when a practice has been accurately evaluated, the foundation thoughtfully structured and time-tested guidelines for conversion utilized, sustainable success has followed. I share some recent, notable examples below.
Joining a thriving concierge practice
Teaming up with an established, highly regarded concierge physician has opened the door for many doctors who yearned to make the change but faced barriers including lack of time and business experience.We help our physician clients identify their perfect match in terms of cultural fit, financial expectations and other considerations, and facilitate a plan for long-term success.
“I wanted to make the change to concierge medicine for quite awhile, but I was so busy with my own practice it seemed like an overwhelming task to take on myself,” shares Atlanta-based Specialdocs physician-client Dr. A.M. “But when an opportunity occurred to team up with a physician I had long admired and practice medicine the way I had always wanted to, I felt it was one I couldn’t miss. My transition was incredibly smooth due to Specialdocs’ guidance throughout the process. Many of my patients made the change with me, and they love being part of a small, personal practice where they are known and cared for so well.”
Former Connecticut hospitalist Dr. J.D. also joined a successful, growing concierge medicine practice, inspired by the personalized, long-time care she could offer. “I realized that simply making a switch to outpatient medicine wouldn’t allow me to care for patients the way I had always envisioned in medical school,” she says. “Pressure from both insurance companies and large healthcare systems means caring for an overwhelming number of patients each day. Concierge medicine is the only model that allows time to connect with patients and offer truly holistic care. I’m thrilled to be part of this independent practice and work with an experienced concierge physician who shares my focus on disease prevention and optimizing health.”
Practicing independently while retaining the hospital connection
Physicians employed in a hospital setting have also forged a path to concierge medicine. Dr. B.A., based in suburban New York, worked with us to create a model that enabled him to practice independently while still remaining connected with his hospital network.
“I had considered concierge medicine for many years, and this customized approach helped me bring my vision to reality,” he says. “For me it’s all about having enough time with a patient to effect real change. A 120-minute conversation is vastly more meaningful than a 10-minute conversation, but that’s never going to happen in a traditional practice setting. Now I’m able to look back at the end of each day and appreciate the impact I was able to make in a way that wasn’t possible before.”
Acquiring a practice from a retiring concierge physician
Opportunities to take the reins from a retiring concierge physician are increasingly abundant, as the first wave of doctors prepares for an often bittersweet exit from their rewarding practices. While concierge physicians tend to practice late into their careers, unaffected by the pervasive industry challenges of burnout and financial instability, a generational handover is now occurring. We’re helping many of our earliest clients set the stage for a smooth succession to a doctor who shares their values and passion for concierge medicine, and will be enthusiastically accepted by their loyal patient panel.
Working side-by-side for many months with the retiring physician practice owner was time well spent for Dr. C.P., a Specialdocs-affiliated doctor in Delray Beach Florida. “I had previously explored a change to personalized medicine but an analysis of my practice showed it was not likely to succeed with my current patient panel,” she recalls. “Acquiring a concierge practice from a dedicated physician who was retiring was exactly the right move. We took all the time needed to let his patients know my commitment to them was equally strong and enduring. As a result, the patient retention rate topped 85%. My practice has continued to expand rapidly, and this September I’m proud to add a new physician to my team.”
Even without a long runway to transition, success can be found with an accelerated due diligence process and compelling motivation for change. Specialdocs-affiliated physician Dr. C.C. remembers her lightning swift transition from employment at a large healthcare system in San Diego to owner of a concierge medicine practice in the community founded by a husband-wife team with an exceptional, decades-long reputation and hundreds of loyal patients.
“Every single patient I saw during the first year was unknown to me. To ease the transition, I kept all staff possible, and recognized it would take patience and time to build trust. Ultimately, I retained more than 90% of the practice’s existing patients, and added many more of my own,” she says.
Terry Bauer is the CEO of Specialdocs. Since 2002 the company has worked to transform physicians’ professional lives with a change to its industry-leading, sustainable concierge medicine model. Specialdocs provides all the essentials and support for a successful concierge medicine practice throughout the transition process and well beyond.