Do it for the right reasons and the rewards will follow naturally
My story begins with a scenario familiar to many of my colleagues. As the founder of a busy, traditional fee-for-service practice with two other physicians and three nurse practitioners, I spent my days providing good but standard medical care, literally running from room to room to maintain the schedule. After 30 years, I was running too fast, unable to spend enough time with patients, depending on my nurses to answer their questions and follow up between visits. I rarely took a vacation because it caused cash flow problems at the office. This clearly wasn’t supportable, and while converting to concierge medicine seemed to offer an ideal solution, my options were limited because the other providers were not looking for a change.
Practice that ‘works for all’
Here’s where my story takes a unique turn. Working with experienced concierge medicine consultants, I was able to create a practice that works for all. I became a concierge physician, and though the other providers remained in a traditional model, we still collaborate, access charts through a shared electronic health record and take call for each other. Patients who chose not to enroll in my concierge model were happy to be able to continue receiving care here; the vast majority have stayed with me or one of our other providers. I’m thankful to note that our practice is more profitable and sustainable than ever before.
Give concierge a look
The ultimate reward for me is practicing medicine that reflects my vision of care in a way that no other model could. It’s not just about making the right diagnosis but about compassion. My patients are like family to me, and I believe there’s nothing more honorable than helping them when they’re sick, or scared, or feeling vulnerable. Now I can offer patients same-day appointments when they’re ill, visit them in the hospital, or provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing they can contact me on my cell phone at any time. I have time to thoroughly research their complex health issues and confer with specialists for difficult situations, as well as follow up with them after a visit to ensure everything is completely clear and all questions are answered. Really listening to your patients means you know them so well that you can immediately identify minor issues before they become crises, and serve as a trusted guide to a healthier, more vibrant life. A patient recently told me that if he could have picked his ancestors better, he may not have needed me, but he’s so grateful for the time and attention I provide, and at an age when most people would be slowing down, he’s now competing in motorcycle rodeos.
My advice to primary care doctors experiencing the unmistakable signs of burnout: give concierge medicine a serious look. If you have strong relationships with your patients, be confident that many will follow you on your journey. Crucially, find a like-minded, expert partner to advise you and smooth the road ahead. For me, that was Specialdocs, whose personalized approach and emphasis on physician autonomy was an ideal fit. They helped me establish a model that works seamlessly and made the conversion process surprisingly easy by delivering on every promise, ahead of schedule.
Most importantly, make the change for the right reason: because you love your patients and want to serve them with the most attentive care possible. The rewards — financial stability, practice sustainability, work-life balance, professional pride and even joy — will follow naturally. My patients are thrilled with extended visits and the knowledge that I’m always just a phone call away. In turn, they’re genuinely happy to see me not feeling rushed or harried. I’m able to start a little later, leave a little earlier, and have the time and energy to work out, eat healthier, enjoy being with my family — and finally take some of those long-delayed vacations.
Jay C. Tyroler, M.D., operates an internal medicine practice in Fairfax, Virginia.